New York’s Metropolitan Opera stopped a performance Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016, after someone sprinkled an unknown powder into the orchestra pit.

A powdery substance that a man dumped into the Metropolitan Opera’s orchestra pit during a Saturday, October 29, performance of Rossini’s Guillaume Tell may have been the cremated ashes of a fan, according to police.

The New York Police Department’s deputy commissioner, John Miller — who is in charge of counterterrorism, told The Associated Press that several showgoers said that an unidentified man told them that he attended the concert so he could sprinkle the ashes of his deceased friend and opera mentor at the New York City landmark.

Miller said that the man (who, according to the AP, is not a resident of NYC) doused the ashes in the pit during the second intermission when most of the musicians were not present. The incident forced Met officials to cancel the rest of the show as well as a Saturday evening performance of L’Italiana in Algeri.

Metropolitan Opera and orchestra.

Miller told the AP that the powder will be tested, and the possibility of it being the ashes of a human “is certainly an area that we are pursuing.” Police know who the man who dumped the ashes is, and are reaching out to him as they continue their investigation of the odd episode.

Shortly after the incident occurred, a Met representative told audience members that the second intermission had been prolonged due to a “technical error.” However, the same rep made a subsequent announcement minutes later, telling the crowd to go home because the fourth act would not be performed.

“Everybody kind of slowly walked out,” Toronto native and attendee Dylan Hayden recounted to the AP. “As we were exiting the building, I noticed the counterterrorism unit going into the building.”

Hayden added: “The idea that they said that it was a technical error, when I was maybe 15 feet away from a potential dangerous substance, that kind of irks me a little bit. But at no point did I feel an actual threat.”


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