20-year-old climbs Trump Tower evading NYPD for hours

UPDATE – 4:13 p.m. EST: More details have emerged about Wednesday’s Trump Tower climber that challenged NYPD personnel to remove him from the side of the 58-story building.

Widely reported as having achieved 20-years from birth, one Stephen Rogata is only 19 years old, and hails from Great Falls, Va., a town bordering the Potomac River less than 20 miles from Washington.

Upon release from the psychiatry unit at an east-side Manhattan hospital, Rogata was charged by the NYPD with reckless endangerment and trespassing on private property.


Pedestrians and tourists around the area of Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan were treated to a timely spectacle Wednesday afternoon when a male minor from Virginia was seen successfully scaling 16 stories up Trump Tower before being detained by New York Police Department (NYPD) officers.

Using climbing gear that included industrial-style suction cups, pulley straps and a harness, the 20-year-old, only known as Steve, started his ascent at the building’s fifth floor atrium which is open to the public. The climber successfully evaded police capture for a couple of hours, as authorities tried removing window panes above his location and sawed holes in ventilation vents on the side of the building in an attempt to reel him in.


NYPD officers finally pull Steve to safety after a two hour effort (courtesy AFP/Bryan R. Smith)

Ultimately, police cut out a glass pane adjacent to a corner of the tower where the perpetrator was climbing, and officers were able to reach out and pull the young man into the building on the 21st floor.

The entire ordeal lasted over three hours, as the NYPD first received calls about what was first believed to be a suicide threat incident at 3:30 p.m. EST, and finally made the capture around 6:35.  According to police, the climber claimed he was trying to meet Donald Trump and did not intend to hurt the Republican presidential candidate.

“Steve” published the following YouTube video on Tuesday, from what appears to be a private residence:

Despite his complimentary words for the candidate and his soft-spoken tone, authorities hypothesize Steve’s primary motive to be self-promotion, as printed handouts were found on his person upon detention.

As for the Trump Organization, a company executive’s official statement indicates New York real estate tycoon’s find no humor in eccentric publicity stunts that draw unwanted attention to their brand.

“This man performed a ridiculous and dangerous stunt,” said Trump executive vice-president Michael Cohen. “There’s damage to the building and he caused the unnecessary deployment of New York’s finest to protect his safety . . . He’s caused the shutdown of traffic on Fifth Avenue. I’m 100 percent certain the NYPD had better things to do.”

If building climber Steve was indeed hoping to meet Trump, he picked the wrong day to scale Trump Tower, as the candidate spent Wednesday afternoon campaigning in Abingdon, VA, and later in the evening at Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

After being captured, the climber was taken to a hospital on the east-side of Manhattan for psychiatric evaluation and will be arrested and charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct upon medical release.


[USA Today] [ABC News] [CBS News]