An amateur video circulating online, purportedly showing an alien at a Miami mall, sent social media in the United States into a frenzy last week.
The video showed a figure that was at least 2.4m tall strolling outside the Bayside Marketplace shopping centre.
It sparked claims on social media that aliens had landed on earth.
The truth, however, was far more down to earth, according to the Miami Police Department.
On Jan 5, they released a video on Instagram to debunk the rumours.
“There were no aliens, UFOs (unidentified flying objects), or ETs. No airports were closed. No power outages,” the police told Forbes magazine in an e-mail.
The initial video that sparked the extraterrestrial buzz surfaced on Jan 1, according to several US media outlets.
On New Year’s Day, 911 callers reported hearing what they thought were gunshots at the mall, according to a report in the Miami Herald.
It turned out to be a group of around 50 teenagers shooting fireworks at people, the police said, adding that some looting had also occurred.
The police then called a citywide emergency because the officers already at the scene were unable to control the situation.
Four teenagers were eventually arrested, NBC News reported.
However, there were no immediate answers about what had triggered the large police presence.
Adding to the lack of information was the amateur video posted online, which suggested a big creature could be seen in front of the entrance to the mall, CBS News reported.
Rumours of an alien invasion began blowing up on social media, the Miami Herald report said.
Netizens said the police were trying to handle “shadow aliens” that were 2.4m to 3m in height.
But a clearer video that closely matches the alleged alien clip appeared to show two or three people walking together between police cars and an area near the mall, Forbes said.
The alleged footage of the alien was edited with videos of people running from the area in a state of panic. This led some social media users to suggest that those people were fleeing from the creature.
While some were convinced of an alien invasion, others took to social media to post memes.
One X user questioned how people with smartphones did not manage to capture a close-up video of the creature.
Actor William Shatner, best known for his iconic role as Captain James Kirk in the television series Star Trek, took to X to share his reaction as well.
Aliens and UFOs have been the subject of headlines over the decades.
Most recently in July 2023, former US intelligence official David Grusch said in a congressional hearing that “non-human biologics” were at alleged crash sites, according to a report in Forbes magazine.
He also claimed that the US government ran a decades-long programme about unidentified aerial phenomena, the new term for UFOs.
At the same hearing, a former US Navy pilot and a Harvard professor made similar claims, CBS News reported.