A box that sparked brief public alarm on Manhattan’s Upper East Side on Thursday is being considered a ‘hoax’ by investigators as they work to determine if the incident was some kind of performance stunt or political display, law enforcement sources with direct knowledge of the investigation said.
The initial report of a “suspicious package” arrived around 9 a.m. and shut down Fifth Avenue, East 84th Street and East 86th Street for about two hours before the NYPD gave the go-ahead. Photos posted on the Citizen app showed a big response at the scene just steps from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
According to law enforcement sources, the inside of the box contained a typical foam material and three recessed areas each containing a hardened gel-like substance. The gel was deemed non-hazardous.
It is unknown why the box was left where it was left or its purpose. Authorities are investigating whether it was some kind of performance art stunt. Another theory is that the three gel-like substance exclusions could represent fetuses in a womb, law enforcement sources said.
For now, the sources say investigators are treating it as a “hoax” due to the public alarm that resulted from its discovery. Whoever dumped it could face arrest and possible criminal charges depending on why it was left behind.
Authorities say their investigation is ongoing.