NEW YORK - The NYPD was alerted and a Coast Guard station was placed on lockdown after a photo surfaced Friday of people carrying what appeared to be assault rifles on Staten Island.
Officials eventually determined that there appears to be no threat, and that the weapons were likely paintball guns, but not before traffic in the area slowed to a halt as bridges and roads were shut down.
Police issued an alert after a retired NYPD officer took the picture in a parking lot near the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. It showed people carrying what appeared to be guns near two vehicles with New Jersey license plates.
Police searched the area for two vehicles shown in the photos. Patrol cars parked near the bridge as part of heightened security measures following the murders of four unarmed Marines at a recruiting station in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The NYPD interviewed at least one of the car owners shown in the pictures, who told investigators that the group planned on paintballing later in the afternoon. Laws differ from state to state, but a New Jersey paintball shop owner says the weapons must be disassembled for transportation in New Jersey.
A Coast Guard spokesman said that police determined the unconfirmed threat was "no longer significant" at around 3 p.m.
The NYPD says the investigation is ongoing, but no arrests have been made.