NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Security checkpoints were set up on Staten Island late Friday afternoon after several people were spotted carrying what looked like assault rifles – but police later said the weapons were likely paintball guns.
The NYPD had issued a "be on the lookout" alert after several people carrying what appeared to be assault rifles were photographed at the Midland Beach parking lot.
The photos were taken by a retired member of the NYPD, CBS2's Dave Carlin reported.
The images showed a man and woman handling the rifles and pointing them in the windows of two cars.
But NYPD firearms experts conducted a forensic examination of the photographs, and their preliminary opinion was that "the weapons in the pictures strongly resemble replicas of firearms used in paintball games," NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism John Miller said in a statement.
Police: Weapons Spotted With Group On Staten Island May Be Paintball Guns
Interviews by the NYPD and FBI investigators in New Jersey revealed that the registered owner of one vehicle indicated he was planning to go paintball shooting for friends Friday, Miller said in the statement.
Police were no longer searching for the people in the photos by early Friday evening, but the investigation continued.
"I would be a little nervous about this, because you can't trust anybody nowadays," said Midland Beach resident Pete Morando.
Police earlier set up traffic checkpoints leaving Staten Island while they were searching for the vehicles.
Traffic was reduced down to one lane on the Goethals Bridge and was left at a complete standstill late Friday afternoon, CBS2's Joe Biermann reported.
The Coast Guard station at Fort Wadsworth was briefly locked down briefly as a result of the security alert.
"I saw 20 cars of the police – might be NYPD," said a man named Igor, who said police were swarming Fort Wadsworth for about four hours.
Military installations in our area have stepped up security as a result of the attack on two military facilities in Chattanooga, Tenn. Thursday. Four marines were killed by a gunman who also died.
No arrests were made in the incident. But police late Friday warned the public that paintball guns can cause trouble – even unintentionally.
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