The suspect in a NYC bomb threat hoax made far-right posts and is known for sneaking into the 2016 Democratic debate

Advertisement
The suspect in a NYC bomb threat hoax made far-right posts and is known for sneaking into the 2016 Democratic debate
A screenshot from NBC News of Louis Shenker shaking Hillary Clinton's hand during the 2016 Democratic debate.Screenshot/Louis Shenker
  • Louis Shenker, 22, is suspected of planting a fake bomb in a New York City parking garage on Monday, according to unnamed officials who spoke to The New York Times.
  • The suspect is a far-right extremist who has spread conspiracy theories on social media and on his podcast, NBC News reported.
  • Shenker was previously arrested last week and charged with misdemeanor counts of arson and criminal mischief in a separate incident, according to documents reviewed by Insider.
  • The provocateur previously snuck onto a 2016 Democratic debate stage, where he shook hands with Hillary Clinton.

The man arrested on suspicion of planting a fake bomb in a car in New York City Monday is a right-wing extremist who once made headlines for sneaking into a 2016 Democratic presidential debate and shaking hands with Hillary Clinton.

Louis Shenker, 22, turned himself in early on Tuesday morning after he left a stolen vehicle with a fuel canister and wiring perched on its trunk in a Queens parking garage, unnamed police officials told The New York Times. A spokesperson for the New York Police Department (NYPD) did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The NYPD had already been investigating Shenker for other "disruptive stunts," NBC News reported on Monday.

Advertisement

The provocateur had previously been arrested last week in connection with the burning of posters near New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's residence, Gracie Mansion, The New York Times reported. On his own podcast, Shenker had threatened to perform a citizen's arrest of de Blasio, according to The Times.

He was charged with misdemeanor counts of arson and criminal mischief and is next due in court on March 3, according to court records reviewed by Insider. A representative for New York County Defender Services, which is representing Shenker in the case, did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Shenker was previously interviewed by the FBI for comments he made while livestreaming from an anti-mask rally at a Staten Island bar, according to the New York Times.

Advertisement

Shenker has been supportive of the Stop the Steal conspiracy-theory movement online

Shenker's Instagram and Twitter accounts were full of far-right extremist views, including conspiracy theories related to mask-wearing, COVID-19 vaccines, Bill Gates, George Soros, the Clintons, and Anthony Fauci, as NBC News first reported. The hoax bomb suspect has also called himself an "American nationalist," NBC New York reported.

A Facebook account that appeared to belong to Shenker also contained pro-Trump references and frequently shared posts from President Donald Trump, Insider found. He appeared to have shared articles that contained false information about voter-fraud in the 2020 election, including an article claiming that dead people had voted.

One post juxtaposed an image of Donald Trump Jr. with one of Hunter Biden, showing the president-elect's son with his eyes closed and what looks like drug paraphernalia in his mouth. "Choose your fighter," the meme said. The caption of the post said, "We all know there is only one way to definitively settle this election..."

Advertisement

The picture of Biden has been popular among right-wing news outlets that reported on rumors about the existence of a laptop containing content that would supposedly be damning for the Bidens once unearthed.

The caption of the Hunter Biden meme also included the hashtag #StopTheSteal, referencing the pro-Trump movement protesting the President-elect Joe Biden's election win. Facebook removed the main group spreading Stop the Steal sentiment in November, citing "worrying calls for violence" among the group's followers. The group had more than 365,000 members at the time of its removal.

Other posts from Shenker included a photo depicting Shenker wearing a MAGA hat, a segment from InfoWars, the online broadcast known for peddling false and absurd conspiracy theories, and a comment on a post from President Trump where Shenker wrote, "STAND BACK AND STAND BY" - the line Trump stated during September's presidential debate when asked to condemn far-right groups like the Proud Boys.

Advertisement

Appearing on an episode of InfoWars, Shenker encouraged "100,000 people" to protest outside New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's residence, according to NBC News. The proposed rally was purportedly meant to protest the results of the election, which Shenker has falsely claimed President Trump won.

He also hosted his own podcast in which he discussed his far-right views, The New York Times reported, citing a law enforcement official speaking on the condition of anonymity. On the YouTube channel for the "Minuteman Broadcast" show, viewers were encouraged to attend Stop the Steal protests, including one at the Massachusetts State Capital in November.

Twitter accounts for both Shenker and the podcast were suspended for violating Twitter Rules. The Facebook and Instagram pages for the podcast were removed.

Advertisement

The right-wing troll was briefly known for sneaking into a 2016 Democratic debate

Shenker's past also includes the once-infamous 2016 prank, which he detailed in a blog post at the time, called, "How I Snuck into the South Carolina Democratic Debate." Shenker was also interviewed by news outlets, including the website ATTN, in light of the incident. He was 17 at the time.

The suspect in a NYC bomb threat hoax made far-right posts and is known for sneaking into the 2016 Democratic debate
Shenker shared photos in a 2016 blog post detailing how he snuck into the Democratic debate.Louis Shenker

The January 2016 blog post detailed how, while in Charleston, South Carolina, for his sister's wedding, he made it onto the debate stage and ended up shaking hands with Clinton by posing as various staffers and, at one point, claiming to be former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's son. He had also snuck into the Republican debate earlier that month.

In the ATTN interview, Shenker's views were much more progressive than they appear to be at present: "There is no doubt in my mind that the implicit biases within our society played a large factor in my success," he said of his ability to sneak his way into the high-security event. "I believe that it is important to recognize that as whites we are treated differently. We must first admit this if we are ever to have complete racial equality."

Advertisement

Last month, Shenker filmed himself burning a poster of George Floyd at a Black Lives Matter vigil in New York, according to NBC News and social-media posts. He has also posted several screeds against the Black Lives Matter movement online.

Back at the time of his 2016 blog post, though, he made his intentions clear. "This is undoubtedly one of the craziest things I have ever been able to pull," he wrote. "Looking back I still get hype that I made it into one of the most secure events in the nation, past secret service, onto tv, and into the press room without getting stopped and ejected."

{{}}