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Police Say Powder Thrown at Metropolitan Opera May Have Been Human Ashes

FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2014, file photo, pedestrians make their way in front of the Metropolitan Opera house at New York's Lincoln Center. New York's Metropolitan Opera stopped a performance Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016, after someone sprinkled an unknown powder into the orchestra pit. Met spokesman Sam Neuman said Saturday afternoon's performance of "Guillaume Tell" was canceled during the second intermission because of the incident. A police spokeswoman said the person who sprinkled the powder fled and is being sought. (AP Poto/John Minchillo, File)
John Minchillo—AP Tthe Metropolitan Opera house at New York's Lincoln Center on Aug. 1, 2014.

Police believe the powder was the ashes of the man's former mentor

The Metropolitan Opera came to a halt on Saturday after an audience member threw a powdery substance—which police believe was cremated human ashes—into the pit during intermission.

Police identified the audience member on Saturday night through video surveillance footage and interviews with witnesses, and said the powder may have been the ashes of the man’s former mentor.

John J. Miller, deputy police commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism for the New York Police Department, told reporters the unnamed man does not live in New York and that police were attempting to contact him.

According to police, the man told other patrons he was there specifically to toss the ashes. Miller said throwing the ashes may have broken the city’s health code, but that there was no criminal intent.

The Saturday afternoon performance of “Guillaume Tell” as well as that night’s performance of “L’Italiana in Algeri” were cancelled as a safety precaution.

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