The NYPD is investigating after a video on social media surfaced showing a man shooting a flamethrower into the air as he was on top of an MTA bus with people inside — but it may have all been a part of an unsanctioned stunt.
The incident took place Nov. 8 along the B-26 bus route near Franklin Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Flames come shooting out from the weapon and high into the air, and later onto the ground, as the man jumps around on top of the bus. There were about two dozen people inside the bus at the time, the MTA said, who were later evacuated.
"We don't even need to say how absurd, dangerous and just plain stupid this was. The reckless individual who torched over the top of an occupied city bus put New Yorkers, including the bus operator, in life-threatening peril," said MTA Communications Director Tim Minton. "We are grateful the courageous actions of the operator in moving riders to safety minimized risk, and are cooperating fully with the NYPD investigation."
There are numerous angles, one of which appears to be from a drone, which are not allowed to be flown in many parts of the city. There are no laws banning the use of flamethrowers in the city, however there is currently a bill before the state senate that would make owning one a felony.
There were no reported injuries, and an NYPD spokesperson said that police are now investigating — but it appears the whole thing may have been staged as part of a music video that was not cleared by the city. Crowds were invited online to come watch, with free ice cream and T-shirts being offered.
The owner of a wine shop near the location said it was an all-day affair, and he even closed down his shop for the day.
"It's unsafe, it's just crazy. I mean, but that being said, if I was looking at a movie, or if I was at the circus it would be fine," said Elliot Bey, the owner or Franklin Cellars.
The videos posted to Instagram and other social media are connected to an artist nicknamed Dupree G.O.D., who did not respond to requests for comment. Videos of the stunt were posted on his Instagram page, and the NYPD is looking at them as part of their investigation.
There are other videos showing the flamethrower being used in a school yard — it was not immediately clear if that was part of the same video shoot or a separate incident altogether. It also appears that Dupree G.O.D. was involved in a less-serious stunt on a subway, taking part in a Thanksgiving dinner set up for passengers inside a subway car.
Unlike that good-spirited incident, the flamethrower controversy is likely to soon result in criminal charges.