Police swarmed the area around the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel Tuesday evening while investigating a 911 call about a sniper that turned out to be unfounded, a law enforcement official says.
Someone called local police to report there was a sniper on top of a lumber business in Weehawken that overlooks the tunnel, the official said. The building was searched and no sniper was found.
Several local law enforcement agencies, including the Port Authority, responded. The New Jersey State Police says a helicopter was dispatched to the area.
About an hour after the call was placed and the lumber building was searched, SWAT teams stopped a NJ Transit Hudson-Bergen light rail train and entered with their rifles drawn, removing more than a dozen passengers.
Port Authority would not confirm that the SWAT response was directly connected to the apparent 911 hoax call, but the train was stopped at 19th Street, near the Lincoln Tunnel.
Some riders were searched while Port Authority officers emptied and combed the train. One recounted the "scary" incident, telling NBC 4 New York: "We were told to get off the train and there were SWAT people with guns."
"We didn't hear anything, see anything," the passenger added. "It looked pretty normal until they stopped the train."
One man on the train was seen being handcuffed on an unrelated matter of disorderly conduct, according to a police source. He was later released.
Authorities traced the call to Pennsylvania and believe it was a hoax. They're continuing to investigate.