The discolored doll had a shirt that read "Crawling Dead" in red lettering

By Char Adams
June 19, 2019 04:15 PM

Warning: The following story contains graphic imagery and details.

New York City authorities pronounced a baby dead and set up a large crime scene in Queens Tuesday morning — only to realize the infant was actually just a baby doll, PEOPLE confirms.

Around 7:40 a.m., police responded to Crocheron Park, where they saw what they initially believed to be an unconscious 3-month-old baby lying face-down. Authorities pronounced the infant dead at the scene, a New York Police Department spokesperson tells PEOPLE.

“Upon further investigation it was determined that what they thought was a baby was actually a prop,” the spokesperson adds. “It was some sort of doll, an inanimate object.”

Detectives flooded the scene upon receiving the initial report, setting up a crime scene tent and blocking off the area with yellow tape, according to the Associated Press. But when personnel from the city’s medical examiner arrived to retrieve the body, they quickly determined it was a doll.

The prop appeared to be purposely discolored to resemble decomposing skin, the AP reported. And the baby’s t-shirt read “Crawling Dead” in red lettering.

Discolored baby doll found in a Queens park
New York Police Department

“It appeared to be a baby with discoloration consistent with signs of prolonged death,” New York Fire Department spokesman Myles Miller said, according to the AP.

The doll was found lying next to a wall, prompting many to suspect someone threw it over the wall and left, the New York Times reported.

“The community was really up in arms that somebody would have the gall to leave a baby in the park,” Jack Fried, president of the local 111th Precinct Community Council, told the Times.

Three hours had passed before authorities realized their mistake. Responding paramedics were unable to detect a heartbeat, and likely did not want to disturb the apparent corpse, the Times reported. So, they left crime scene investigators to take over.

The lack of bruising under the baby’s shirt indicated that it was a prop, and Fried said adherence to protocol may have led to the mix-up.

“Any time a child is involved in any kind of crime, the Police Department goes crazy, so they all come running,” Fried told the Times. “Once it becomes a major crime scene, you have so many departments and everyone gets blocked off.”