Man arrested after immolation prank in Wildwood elevator

    Image: By Chriscoop - Own work

    Image: By Chriscoop - Own work

    Police arrested a New York City man after they said he pretended he was going to set himself on fire in a crowded elevator at a Wildwood motel as part of a social media prank.

    Eight people were in the elevator at the Isle of Palms motel on Atlantic Avenue around 8:30 p.m. Sunday, police said. 

    Police say the occupants, including two young children, believed 19-year-old Austin Gaile had poured gasoline on himself, fearing that their lives were in danger. But Gaile had poured water from a gasoline container and was attempting to light it in order to post a video of their reactions online.

    Several occupants were visibly shaken well after authorities arrived on the scene, police said.

    Gaile, held on $90,000 cash bail, is charged with false public alarm, two counts of child endangerment, marijuana possession, and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to police. 

    He was unable to post bail and was lodged in the Cape May County Correctional Center. 

    It’s not known if he has a lawyer.

    —————————————————————

    The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.