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Police: Man Climbs Out Of Grate, Throws Smoke Bombs In Greenwich Village Restaurant

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Police said a man climbed out of a sidewalk grate and hurled a smoke bomb into a Greenwich Village restaurant Friday evening, before climbing back underground and vanishing.

The incident happened around 5:45 p.m. Friday at Bar Pitti, at 268 Sixth Ave. between Bleecker and Houston streets, police told CBS 2.

The suspect emerged from the grate that leads up from the subway system and threw the device, police said.

The bomb emitted red smoke when a suspect wearing an American flag T-shirt hurled it, police said. The manager at Bar Pitti said an employee grabbed the smoking device and tossed it back outside, at which point the suspect ducked back underground and disappeared.

The incident brought the NYPD Bomb Squad to the scene, but no one was injured, police said.

As CBS 2's Lou Young reported, residents and tourists in the bustling neighborhood were shocked.

"Apparently, a man came out of the subway grate over there jumped out, and threw a smoke bomb into the restaurant," said tourist Jim Webb.

Webb said as many as 65 police officers responded to the scene.

"First thought was ISIS with everything going on. It's scary. It's nerve-wracking, as a native Long Islander coming to the city for dinner with friends and family," said tourist Kay Maygothling. "I'm glad I didn't bring my daughter."

At least one restaurant-goer complained on Twitter that the red smoke stung her eyes, but others said it was not noxious.

Hours after the incident, restaurant customers filled the sidewalk café once more, under the watchful eye of a lone police officer. Some of them joked about what might have been behind the bizarre incident.

"It's New York. We have troglodytes," said Manhattan resident Hal Hayes. "They live down in the tunnels. They come out when they need some air."

"Is your lovely little restaurant on somebody's hit list?" said Manhattan resident Cleve Harp.

It was not known whether the smoke bomb incident was a statement, a warning, or something to do with the restaurant business. Police said it was not related to terrorism.

The suspect remained on the loose late Friday night.

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