NYC
04/02/2013 01:24 pm ET Updated 4 days ago

Washington Heights 'Kidnapping' Was Actually A Birthday Prank, Says NYPD (VIDEO)

A scheme reportedly using guns and masks to "kidnap" a couple for a friend's surprise birthday set off a manhunt in New York City this weekend.

The New York Post reports the prank was inspired by the abduction scene in the film "Old School" starring Will Ferrell.

The joke, however, took a serious turn when alarmed bystanders called 911 after witnessing the couple scream as they were taken away by the "kidnappers," who it turns out were actually just the couples' friends, Hamlet Pena and Julian Mann.

Police officials then deployed helicopters and emergency service officers throughout Washington Heights.

From The Wall Street Journal:

Mann told police the abduction was planned as a diversion after the man, identified as Christian Joe, found out about the surprise party, the official said. The other apparent victim, Joe’s girlfriend, was in on the joke. Joe, who had a pillow case placed on his head during the prank, told detectives he immediately recognized his “abductors” voices as being his friends’ and that there was no weapon involved.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said, "One of participants came home from the party and his mother or someone told him about the hoax. He goes to one of the news sites and sees the films and realize he was involved. He called up [the NYPD] TIPS hotline."

No charges are expected to be filed because none of the pranksters filed a police report or called 911.

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