Yesterday, cops launched a major investigation after a group of individuals were photographed allegedly transferring M16 rifles between vans in a Staten Island parking lot—law enforcement set up police checkpoints on major roads in hopes of catching the suspects. But it turns out the aforementioned rifles were just paintball guns.
A retired NYPD officer spotted the alleged assault rifle exchange at a parking lot in Midland Beach near the Verrazano Bridge yesterday, sparking the massive investigation. Cops set up checkpoints all over the borough, snarling traffic on the Verrazano and causing a complete standstill on the Goethals Bridge during rush hour. Several local Coast Guard stations were also locked down.
By 6:30 p.m., however, police were able to track down one of the van owners, who told authorities he planned on going paintball shooting with his friends that day. Cops confirmed his story with a local paintball park, and eventually opened the roads.
Though the checkpoints may have seemed like overkill, the city has been on particularly high alert since Thursday, when a gunman opened fire at a military recruiting station and then a U.S. Navy facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The gunman, Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, was eventually killed by police, but first fatally shot five U.S. Marines and wounded two others.