Trump Tower climber arrested, charged with endangerment, trespassing

EMBED </>More News Videos

Darla Miles reporting live (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

The man who used suction cups to climb the south side of the Trump Tower building in Manhattan Wednesday has been arrested and charged.

Stephen Rogata, 19, of Great Falls, Virginia, has been charged with reckless endangerment and criminal trespassing.

Rogata, who claimed to be a researcher seeking "a private audience" with GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, spent three hours scaling the glass facade of Trump Tower using large suction cups before officers hauled him to safety through an open window.

PHOTOS: Man climbs Trump Tower in NYC with suction cups

Officials said he took his father's car and drove to New York Tuesday night. Rogata checked into the Bowery Grand Hotel at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Rogata wore a backpack and used a harness and rope stirrups to fasten himself to the side of the 68-story Manhattan skyscraper. Starting at 3 p.m., he climbed as high as the 21st floor before officers grabbed him. He is undergoing a psychological evaluation at Bellevue hospital.

Rogata was known as Michael Joseph Ryan, but he recently changed his name and had new identification with him. It is unclear if Rogata is his legal name.

While he was climbing, Rogata had a notepad he was trying to show in the windows and leaflets in his backpack apparently referencing his YouTube page. He dropped the pad as well as a computer during the climb. Rogata also had multiple identifications, which are part of the investigation into possible mental illness.

The tower is headquarters to Donald Trump's Republican presidential campaign and his business empire. Trump also lives there, though he was in Virginia in the afternoon and was headed to Florida for an evening event.

Rogata played a slow-motion cat-and-mouse game with his would-be rescuers as he climbed Trump Tower. Officers smashed windows and broke through ventilation ducts to block his progress. Police also lowered themselves toward the man using a window washer's platform.

The chase ended dramatically just after 6:30 p.m. Two officers leaned far out of a window, grabbed the climber's arm and harness, and in a flash yanked him from his dangling stirrups. He went through the opening head first, his legs pointed skyward.

"I reached out. I took hold of his hand and I said, 'Sir, would you come with me,'" said detective Christopher Williams, who made the grab.

VIDEO: Trump Tower climber captured
EMBED </>More News Videos

Watch as the NYPD pulls the Trump Tower climber into the building.

Police had deployed large, inflated crash pads at the scene, but it was unclear how much protection they would have offered if the climber fell.

A day before the ascent, police said Rogata posted a video on YouTube entitled, "Message to Mr. Trump (why I climbed your tower)."

He posted the video under the name Leven Thumps, which is a character in a series of children's fantasy novels by the writer Obert Skye.

"I am an independent researcher seeking a private audience with you to discuss an important matter. I guarantee that it's in your interest to honor this request," he said. "Believe me, if my purpose was not significant, I would not risk my life pursuing it. The reason I climbed your tower is to get your attention. If I had sought this via conventional means, I would be much less likely to have success because you are a busy man with many responsibilities."

NYPD Assistant Chief William Aubrey said the climber told officers the same thing after he was safely inside the building.

"At no time did he express that he wanted to hurt anybody," he said.

"This man performed a ridiculous and dangerous stunt," Michael Cohen, an executive at the Trump Organization, said in an emailed statement. "I'm 100 percent certain the NYPD had better things to do."

Later Wednesday evening, Trump tweeted "Great job today by the NYPD in protecting the people and saving the climber."

The climber began his ascent from a terrace that is open to the public during the day.
Related Topics:
politicsdonald trumptrump towerrescuenypdu.s. & worldNew York City
(Copyright ©2016 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

Load Comments