NEWARK — A Facebook video shows a large white rat being released inside a crowded McDonald's restaurant on Tuesday afternoon.

The video opens with a young man accompanied by a small child carrying a clear plastic container containing the rat. They enter through the front door of the restaurant on Broad Street in downtown Newark. The man's face can briefly be seen.

"I wanna hold it. Let me hold it," the child says.

The man removes the lid and turns the container upside down, releasing the rat onto the floor. Screams are heard as customers run away, some climbing over tables and chairs to get away. The rat is seen in the video sitting still on the floor.

"Let me out! Let me out! Let me out," said one male voice heading for the door. Another can be heard laughing as the video ends.

It is not clear when the incident took place. The video was posted late Wednesday afternoon to the  Facebook page of "Fe Bugout." RLS Metro Breaking News was first news website to post the video.

In a statement,  Celest Quintana, the owner/operator of the franchise, said "the safety of our customers and the cleanliness of our restaurants are our top priorities." She said the dining room has been cleaned and sanitized.

"We are currently working with local law enforcement to identify the person responsible for this deliberate act," Quintana said.

A spokeswoman for Newark Police acknowledged a message but did not provide additional information.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

More from New Jersey 101.5

Sign up for the NJ1015.com Newsletter

Get the best of NJ1015.com delivered to your inbox every day.