A man suspected of placing a hoax bomb that evacuated a mall in Queens, N.Y. on Monday morning is a right-wing conspiracy theorist who was arrested for arson on Dec. 30 and has been under investigation by the NYPD for at least a week, his social media accounts appear to show.
Law enforcement officials say they are looking for the man, Louis Shenker, 22, after New York City firefighters discovered a stolen car with wire, cans, and electrical wiring in the form of a hoax bomb device on top of the car's trunk. No explosives were found in the vehicle — a Tesla with Nevada plates parked on a spiral ramp between parking garage levels at the Queens Place mall — but police rescued a husky dog from inside it.
The car had pro-Black Lives Matter movement signage, raising questions of whether the signs were placed there in an attempt to discredit the movement, according to three senior law enforcement officials.
Police were already investigating Shenker, and have arrested him twice for other disruptive stunts. On Dec. 30, he was arrested for criminal mischief and two counts of low-level arson for allegedly burning a poster affixed to a NYPD barricade, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. Shenker repeatedly engaged in a variety of similar stunts including anti-mask actions, which he documented on Instagram.
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Shenker has repeatedly tweeted at Nick Fuentes, a prominent figure in the far-right Groyper movement, which attempts to turn the racist and homophobic trolling culture of extremist forum 4chan into real life action. His Twitter account has been suspended.
Shenker appeared on the online conspiracy webcast InfoWars in December, where he pushed false conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, coronavirus, and a plot to take over the world. He implored “100,000 people at minimum to come to New York City” to protest a litany of causes outside of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s residence, including the false conspiracy theory that “Donald John Trump is the rightful winner of this election.”
He also falsely pushed internet rumors about the coronavirus vaccine, including an elaborate plot featuring the Chinese government, Bill Gates, George Soros, the Clintons and Dr. Anthony Fauci.
A review of an Instagram account, confirmed by three senior law enforcement officials briefed on the investigation to belong to Shenker, shows Shenker burning a photo of George Floyd with a caption, “F--- FENTANYL LOVER ST GEORGE FLOYD & BURN LOOT MURDER (BLM).”
In another post, Shenker appears to have staged an incident where his car was hit with red paint and with a signs warning Shenker to “be afraid.” The photo has a location attached corresponding with Gracie Mansion, the residence for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The account also shows a recent post of an “Amtrak requires everyone to wear a face mask” sign burning, captioned, “It doesn’t get better than this!”
Shenker has posted the hashtag StopTheSteal and pro-Trump signage as well. His Twitter account, linked from a website devoted to his nationalist YouTube show and podcast, has been suspended.
Shenker's attorney and family did not respond to requests for comment.
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