Feb. 10, 2021 By Allie Griffin
Two men have been indicted by a Queens County grand jury for making a terroristic threat and other felony charges after they allegedly planted a fake bomb on a car at the Queens Place Mall last month.
Louis Shenker, 22, of Massachusetts, and Taylor Lyne, 27, of California, allegedly created the bogus device and attached it to a Tesla inside the mall parking garage on Jan. 4, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said.
The pair were seen in the parking garage at around 4:50 a.m. on the day of the incident standing next to the Tesla, Katz said. The vehicle had its front hood, trunk and doors open at the time, according to the charges.
About two hours later, a mall employee spotted the car covered in blankets and cardboard boxes, with wires and other mechanisms protruding from it to make it look like a bomb set to explode, Katz said.
A “Black Lives Matter” sign — believed to be at an attempt to frame BLM activists for the hoax — was also attached to the car, according to the charges. An abandoned dog was also in the vehicle.
The mall was evacuated, businesses were forced to close and both pedestrians and motorists were blocked from entering the busy Queens Boulevard corridor, while the NYPD investigated.
Officers discovered that the device was not an explosive, but instead a fake device.
Nonetheless, Katz said the hoax scared employees and shoppers at the Queens Place Mall.
“There is nothing amusing about a bomb hoax, and the defendants now face very serious charges,” she said in a statement. “Planting a fake explosive in a shopping center creates chaos and fear.”
Shenker turned himself into police hours after the hoax, while his co-defendant Lyne was arrested on Feb. 1.
Shenker has a history of promoting far-right conspiracy theories and was reportedly expelled from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, for a controversy stemming from his alt-right views and actions.
He was arraigned Wednesday at Queens Supreme Court on an indictment charging him with placing a false bomb or hazardous substance in an enclosed shopping mall, making a terroristic threat and abandonment of an animal.
Lyne was arraigned Feb. 1 on the same charges.
The two men are scheduled to return to court on March 3. If convicted, they face seven years in prison, Katz said.