MANHATTAN – A belt made of bullets sparked brief chaos on Thursday at Pace University as police responded to the Manhattan campus for reports of a man with a machine gun that turned out to be unfounded.
It was “part of his wardrobe, a fashion statement,” Deputy Commissioner for Counterterrorism John Miller said of the belt. “Probably not a very good fashion statement.”
Shortly after 2 p.m., a group of men were inside a sixth floor bathroom at the school when they saw protruding from underneath a stall door what looked like belted ammunition, like what might be fed into a machine gun.
They opened the stall door and thought they saw a man loading a gun, Miller said. They ran out and called 911.
That’s when the school’s active shooter protocols were enacted and the campus was evacuated as a precaution.
During a search of the building, officers encountered a man who was wearing a belt that appeared to be made of bullets, Miller said. That man said he’d been in a sixth floor bathroom about the time the incident occurred and the group that called 911 confirmed it was him who they saw in the stall.
Miller said investigators believe the “belt was just a belt,” but they’ll be looking into the accessory further to determine whether the rounds are live or have ever been live. The owner said they are not.
Police said there was never an active shooter on campus and no shots were fired.
The university confirmed that were was "police activity" at One Pace Plaza, but called it a "false alarm." No one was hurt and "everyone is safe," the school said.
A student posted a short video to Twitter at 2:30 p.m. showing a police presence at the campus.
"Pace university getting shut down," they wrote.
When asked if any arrests were made, Miller joked that they’re considering charging the belted man “with a fashion crime.”
He said the callers were “well-meaning” and “did the right thing by calling police.”
“We had a happy, if not slightly awkward, ending for the individual wearing the belt,” Miller said.