A man wearing a costume that consisted of a black robe and a toy rifle in a crowded mall sparked panic because some people thought the get-up was inspired by the Islamic State (ISIS).
Parents and children who attended the Oak View Mall’s Monster Mash Bash in Omaha, Nebraska, on Friday panicked when they spotted the man wearing the black hooded robe outfitted with a duffel bag and black toy rifle, the New York Post reports.
KETV reports that parent Desirae Anson notified mall security after her family members showed her a photo they took of the man. By the time mall security arrived, the man already left the scene.
Once she got home, Anson posted the photo to a group on Facebook. The photo went viral, racking up more than 800 reactions and 500 comments.
The photo reached so many people that it made its way back to the man in costume, who claimed that he did mean any harm by wearing the costume—intended to be inspired by the 2010 crime drama The Town, starring Ben Affleck.
“I didn’t put nobody’s life in jeopardy, nor did I point the gun, nor did I scare little kids,” said Hugo Mendoza, the man in the costume who attended the event with his two daughters and girlfriend.
Mendoza told KMTV that the toy gun he purchased at a costume shop had an orange tip, even though it was not visible to the average bystander.
Mendoza added that he was never approached by security or any nervous guests at the event.
Meanwhile, Anson said the costume made her cut short her visit to the mall with her family because she felt uncomfortable seeing Mendoza’s costume.
“I know nothing about guns,” Anson said. “I don’t know what real guns look like. And all I know is that the orange tip and it wasn’t orange.”