Kristopher David Irizarry-Hoeksema wasn't sure why the bus he boarded at Hamilton Mall was being evacuated. Then, he was suddenly on the ground with a gun in his face.
Irizarry-Hoeksema, 36, of Cicero, Ill., would find he was considered a possible security threat to the Miss America Competition after a woman told police she overheard him talking about a pipe bomb.
"I don't know where the mix-up came from," FBI Special Agent Barbara Woodruff said. "But there was not a threat to the Miss America Pageant. He was never a threat."
While Miss America returned to her roots this month, it was a different world for security. Daily bomb sweeps, a heavy police presence and cameras covering each inch of the traditional parade were part of a new, post-Boston Marathon presence.
Inside a room in Boardwalk Hall, the command post joined law enforcement from federal, state, county and local levels. Surveillance from cameras lent to the city by the Department of Homeland Security captured every inch of the parade Saturday night. Police traveled with the contestants at all times during the two weeks. Overtime figures were not yet available, but City Councilman George Tibbitt indicated at last week's City Council meeting that the state may reimburse that money.
"Everyone really worked with each other exceptionally well," Tourism District Commander Tom Gilbert said of the multi-agency security. "I saw a seamless partnership between everyone. I think we struck the proper balance. We kept everybody safe."
Gilbert could not comment on two fliers that went out to law enforcement personnel only of "possible security threat to the Miss America Pageant."
One, issued by the Atlantic City Detective Bureau, showed pictures of a man who asked questions of Boardwalk Hall staff that made them "feel very uncomfortable," the flier states.
The other, put out by the New Jersey State Police Casino Gaming Bureau, named Irizarry-Hoeksema, a contractor for the Booz Allen Hamilton technology and strategy consulting firm in Washington, D.C.
According to the flier issued last Friday, Irizarry-Hoeksema had been staying at the Golden Nugget and was overheard talking to a man about making a pipe bomb. Posts on Facebook also raised alarms, with him talking of becoming a "career criminal over the weekend," the flier states.
The woman behind the allegations, Irizarry-Hoeksema said, was someone he had tried to help. She had been having problems, so he allowed her to stay on the couch in his room overnight Sept. 11. But then he became concerned, especially when he saw her talking to herself, so he told her she couldn't stay there anymore.
When he returned to his room around 11 p.m. Sept. 12, she was there. Rather than call police and cause a scene, Irizarry-Hoeksema ushered her out.
"I had a feeling something not good was going to come from that," he said of throwing the woman out. "But I didn't think it was going to be to that level."
That level included being facedown with what Irizarry-Hoeksema said was an M-16 at his head.
"They had it awfully close to my head," he said. "It was a really dangerous situation."
While he couldn't say for sure, he believes the arrest was made by State Police. Sgt. Brian Polite also could not immediately confirm it was his department, but spoke in general about such arrests.
"When law enforcement has information in their possession of a wanted person who may possess a weapon that can cause mass destruction or injury, we take that very seriously," Polite said. "If a person is taken into custody, it's done in a manner that ensures the safety of the suspect, law enforcement and, most importantly, the public."
Irizarry-Hoeksema admits he did - briefly - have as a Facebook status the quotes the flier said further raised concerns: "My purpose is to show people that if you screw smart men of color like me, we will go outside the system to prove ourselves. I am sick of the racism in the U.S. People are about to find out what that means."
He said that, and the "career criminal" comment, "was a piece of dark comedy gone wrong." But he said there were other posts that gave it context, showing he had been watching the popular show "Breaking Bad," and he and a friend were joking about shows that show frustration with the system.
The post was no longer on his Facebook on Saturday, before the police stopped him.
While Irizarry-Hoeksema said the FBI agent who questioned him for two hours was respectful, he wonders if anyone had met with the woman who made the accusations. If they had, he said, they would have seen she wasn't a reliable source.
"It wasn't really handled in an appropriate way," he said. "Did they interview her in person? How well are they checking up on (the people making allegations)?"
The FBI's Woodruff would not comment on specifics, but said things are handled case by case.
"We do take every complaint seriously," she said. "When we have a complainant, we do try to identify them, fully identify them."
Irizarry-Hoeksema wonders if there will be repercussions for the false allegations.
"Is anything going to happen to this woman?" he asked. "What if someone actually had the intent of doing something and all these resources are diverted to someone who has none?"
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