The man who inadvertently caused an evacuation of the Metropolitan Opera House after he scattered his friend's ashes in the orchestra pit has apparently done the same thing at opera houses across the country.
About a week before attending the performance of Rossini’s "Guillaume Tell," 52-year-old Dallas resident Roger Kaiser reportedly posted to Facebook a picture of himself with an apple on his head, in apparent reference to the pivotal moment in the opera in which the title character shoots an apple off his son's head. On Saturday, Kaiser scattered his friend's ashes during the opera's afternoon performance.
According to the New York Times, Kaiser also posted about having scattered his friend's ashes at a number of other opera houses.
"It was just part of our deal that I would leave bits of him in all the houses I visit," Kaiser wrote on Facebook last month about a trip he took to Colorado. "The MET is next, late next month." The Daily News reports that Kaiser told investigators he "just wanted to leave something in his memory."
John Miller, the NYPD's Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism, told reporters on Saturday that Kaiser was violating the city’s health code but didn't appear to have any criminal intent.
"I don't think he had any reason to believe what he did was wrong," Miller said.
Around 4:30 p.m. during the second intermission of "Guillaume Tell," members of the Met's orchestra noticed a man in a suit sprinkling a white powder into the orchestra pit. Shortly afterwards, Met staffers announced there would be a delay and security guards began to stand near the pit. The Met ultimately canceled the remainder of the show's performance and evacuated the building, fearing a possible terrorist attack. According to the Daily News, a later show—"L’Italiana in Algeri"—was also canceled.
An NYPD spokesperson told Gothamist on Saturday that Kaiser—who at that time had not yet been identified—fled the scene, but police now say he simply left the theater to get dinner. According to the Times, cops identified Kaiser by figuring out where he had been sitting, finding his name and phone number through the Met's box office and tracking him down on social media. They ran his name through a terrorism database and did not find any matches, and ultimately found him at a bed-and-breakfast in Manhattan.
Kaiser has not been charged with a crime, but the Met's general manager, Peter Gelb, told the Times he hopes future attendees will leave the ashes at home.