Looking out from her SouthSide Commons apartment this past Monday afternoon, Nancy Kim, ‘20, knew something was strange.
In a video taken by Kim and obtained by The Brown and White, as many as eight police cars — both Lehigh and Bethlehem police — along with two officers on bicycles, had converged on 456 Birkel Ave. around 1:45 p.m. on May 11.
LUPD had communicated with BPD for support in their investigation for “what they thought was a burglary in progress,” the Bethlehem Police report said.
Only problem was there was no burglary — and the three men detained were filming a scene for a music video.
In fact, a Black 21-year-old male detained by LUPD was renting a room in the house in question, the police report said.
And the other two males LUPD had detained were also either living at the Birkel house or were friends with those living there.
Kim said the other two males were also not white and had dark skin.
Lori Friedman, Lehigh’s media relations director, emailed The Brown and White on May 15 to explain a citizen called LUPD to report what the caller felt was a burglary. The caller told the dispatcher that a male had broken into the house and was still inside.
Friedman said Lehigh Police arrived on scene to find a male standing on the front porch holding what appeared to be a handgun.
“After a brief investigation, it was determined that the individuals had been acting out a fictional scene for a music video that depicted a staged break-in,” Friedman said in the email. “The male was using a fake Airsoft pistol and posed no threat to the surrounding community.”
None of the three individuals involved were Lehigh students, Friedman said.
“Lehigh PD released all the males they had detained,” the BPD report said.
Lehigh Police Chief Jason Schiffer did not return a request for comment on the incident. Kim said the scene looked so dangerous with so much police activity, she wondered if there was a bomb inside the house.
“More cars showed up even after they were cuffed, and I remember thinking, ‘Why are so many cops showing up?’ This must be very serious,” Kim said.
She also said it didn’t appear any of the police officers engaging with the three males were wearing masks, as is protocol during the coronavirus pandemic.
Kim said she saw the three males begin to get uncuffed at 2:02 p.m.