Police investigate kidnapping post about missing N. Side man, determine it's a hoax

PITTSBURGH — A post circulating on social media claiming that a missing North Side man was kidnapped and being held against his will is a hoax, Pittsburgh police said Thursday.

RELATED: Police resume search in Allegheny River for missing North Side man

The post showed a fake food order placed through Yelp from someone claiming to be Dakota James, saying that he was kidnapped and was being held in the basement of a Shaler Township home.

Pittsburgh police said they checked the address listed in the post with Shaler Township police and found no trace of James.

Shaler police posted on Twitter that they are looking into who created the hoax.

“How uncaring is it to put the family of this young man through more agony than they must already be in. To divert manpower away from productive leads is truly unwarranted,” Shaler Township Police Chief Bryan Kelly said.

Meanwhile, Tootie's Famous Italian Beef, the South Side restaurant that received the order Wednesday night, posted on Twitter that authorities were contacted immediately.

Karl Horn, the owner of Tootie's, also released the following statement:

"I apologize to the family and friends of Dakota James and those who are helping in the search. We received an online order last night with a plea for help and immediately called the police. They, in turn, called the Shaler police to investigate the report.
"The image of the order should have never been posted online, and I deeply regret that it happened. Those involved in the incident have been disciplined. I am sorry for the stress this has caused the family and those that love Dakota. You are in our thoughts and prayers."

James, who is a graduate student at Duquesne University, was last seen Jan. 25 in downtown Pittsburgh’s Cultural District and appeared on surveillance video to be walking in the direction of his North Side apartment.

Police last searched for James on Tuesday along the Ohio River.