Prosecutors Add Charge Against Teen Who Climbed 1 World Trade Center
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey teenager who climbed to the top of 1 World Trade Center will be assessed in a program for youthful offenders.
The program will evaluate Casquejo for jail alternative programs, CBS 2’s Janell Burrell reported.
A judge Wednesday ordered Justin Casquejo to return to court April 30. He and his lawyer declined comment outside Manhattan Community Court. Casquejo also did not speak during his court appearance.
The 16-year-old from Weehawken, N.J., was arrested last month. Authorities said he was dressed like a construction worker when he squeezed through a hole in a fence at about 4 a.m. March 16.
Casquejo was only caught and questioned after spending more than an hour at the top of the building, according to authorities.
The teen was already charged with misdemeanor criminal trespassing. On Wednesday, prosecutors added a more serious misdemeanor charge under the city’s BASE jumping law, which bans climbing an exterior of a building that’s more than 50 feet tall. The charge could carry a year in a jail, but such a sentence seems unlikely, WCBS 880’s Alex Sliverman reported.
After Casquejo’s arrest, other security breaches at the site have come to light.
Four skydivers were charged last month in connection with a BASE jump off the building on Sept. 30.
Police said the four squeezed through a hole in a fence and climbed 104 flights of stairs before leaping from the tower. Surveillance video captured the men landing in front of the Goldman Sachs building.
Two CNN employees were also arrested last month for allegedly trying to sneak into the site.
Security guards have also been caught sleeping on the job and a surveillance system purchased in August reportedly has yet to be installed, CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown reported.
The building’s head of security resigned last week, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the site, said it’s reassessing security.
Sen. Charles Schumer has called on the Department of Homeland Security to survey the entire site, which is considered one of the world’s top terror targets, and conduct a full assessment of potential pitfalls and flaws.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the NYPD will be working even more closely with Port Authority police in the wake of the lapses in security in and around the World Trade Center site, Burrell reported.
“The security will be significantly enhanced as far as vehicle access, pedestrian access in review,” Bratton said.
No one answered the door at the apartment Wednesday where Casquejo lives with his mother, but the building superintendent said the teen is nervous about facing a judge.
“He’s just a teenager, but he knows what he did is not right, especially in New York,” Cecil Danas told CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang.
Casquejo later posted an apology on Twitter, saying, “I seriously apologize to anyone who may have been insulted or felt disrespected by my actions. It was not my intention to do so.”
When completed, the World Trade Center site will have a $40 million security system, including barriers, guard booths and double-barrier systems that create areas to check vehicles for dangerous materials.
In February, a judge rejected a lawsuit challenging the security plan brought by nearby residents who said it would burden their neighborhood with fortress-like security.
The city has said the system is necessary to protect a site that has been attacked by terrorists twice. Officials have said pedestrians and cyclists will be able to move about freely.
The tower is scheduled to open later this year.
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