A Dallas man who wanted to honor his opera-loving friend's memory wound up causing a terror scare at the Metropolitan Opera over the weekend, according to reports.
NYPD officials believe Roger Kaiser inadvertently caused the Met to cut its matinee short Saturday and cancel that night's performance when he tossed the ashes of his dead mentor into the Lincoln Center orchestra pit.
During intermission, Kaiser was seen sprinkling white powder into the pit near the timpani and conductor's podium, the New York Times reports.
After musicians reported what they saw to officials, the decision was made to cancel the rest of “Guillaume Tell” and that night's presentation of "L’Italiana in Algeri" amid fears the powder could have been a dangerous substance like anthrax.
However, at a press conference Saturday night, NYPD deputy police commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, John J. Miller, revealed that police believe the powder was likely human remains.
An audience member reportedly told police about a man who was talking about spreading ashes at the venue. After ascertaining where that man was sitting, the investigation led police to Kaiser, who left at intermission.
When they called him, Kaiser reportedly explained to officials that the ashes were those of his dead friend.
While police said he may have violated public health laws, Kaiser will not be charged with any crime.
"This guy is not a bad guy," one police official said. "He’s really just a friend who lost his friend and is following out his wishes."
As a precaution, officials sent the remains to a lab to ensure they are, in fact, human remains.
In a statement, the chair of the Metropolitan Opera Committee Jessica Phillips said: "While this incident is extremely troubling to say the least, we are grateful that no one was seriously injured and none of the priceless instruments which had to be abandoned in the orchestra pit, due to emergency evacuation, suffered any damage. I’m sure that on Monday morning the Met Opera be reevaluating it’s security protocols."