NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Four men charged with BASE jumping off 1 World Trade Center last fall are defending their stunt, saying it exposed a “hole in security” at the site.
The four were arrested Monday in connection with the incident on Sept. 30.
Andrew Rossig, 33, James Brady, 32, Kyle Hartwell, 29, and Marco Markovich, 27, were arraigned on charges of burglary, reckless endangerment and misdemeanor jumping from a structure, police said.
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.
“It was pretty simple actually,” Markovich told “CBS This Morning” on Tuesday. “Walked right in, saw a worker walk by, got right into the building. We got to the top, didn’t see one person the entire way up from the ground all the way up to the roof.”
Prosecutors said Brady, a construction worker who formerly worked at the trade center, used his knowledge to gain access to restricted areas — a charge the men deny.
Rossig, an avid BASE jumper, said the skydivers took care to keep from endangering anyone, choosing a time when streets would be largely deserted.
It was “very exhilarating,” Rossig said as he and Brady headed to a police precinct to surrender on Monday.
“It’s a fair amount of free-fall time,” he said. “You really get to enjoy the view of the city and see it from a different perspective.”
It wasn’t immediately clear how investigators zeroed in on the four. Police searched their homes last month and got video of the jump, which hadn’t been posted online or otherwise publicized, Rossig’s attorney Timothy Parlatore said.
The video of the jump was released on YouTube on Monday:
The Port Authority on Tuesday condemned the jump as a “lawless and selfish act that clearly endangered the public” and said “the spirit of respect and reverence for this sacred site” was violated.
But the daredevils and defense lawyers paint it another way, saying it exposed a bigger issue of a lack of security at World Trade Center site.
“They went through a hole in the fence and walked right up the building,” said Palmatore. “They encountered no resistance whatsoever from any security personnel.”
“They could look at this from a positive side and say, ‘hey, they were New Yorkers, they got in, they showed us the hole in security and we need to upgrade things,” Rossig said Tuesday.
Two of the accused jumpers are from Long Island, the men are no strangers to the sky diving community, CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.
Brady was a regular at Sky Dive Long Island and Marko Markovich was an employee there for years, but owner Ray Maynard says the men gave sky diving a bad name.
“I think the World Trade Center should never had been jumped off of, Maynard said, “What happened there, those guys didn’t show any respect.”
Palmatore said authorities didn’t signal arrests were imminent until 16-year-old Justin Casquejo’s arrest last week.
The New Jersey teen faces a misdemeanor trespassing charge after police said he crawled through a hole in the fence, climbed to the top of the building and took pictures for an hour.
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday reacted to the separate incidents.
“I know that both City Hall and One Police Plaza are concerned about this situation,” he said. “We’re going to deepen our coordination with the Port Authority Police to address it. It’s obviously not an acceptable state of affairs but we think it’s one that, together, we can resolve.”
Police Commissioner William Bratton said “being a thrill-seeker does not give immunity from the law.”
“These men violated the law and placed themselves, as well as others, in danger,” Bratton said. “These arrests should send a message to anyone thinking about misusing a landmark this way. They will be tracked down and they will face serious charges.”
New Yorkers walking by the site seem more concerned with making sure that the high-profile terror target remains secure.
“for somebody to sneak in is kinda scary actually,” Taariq Cayne told CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown.
The NYPD devotes more than 200 officers, surveillance cameras and other technology to protect the perimeter of the site, while Port Authority police and private security agents guard the inside.
Ultimately, plans call for a $40 million system of barriers and checkpoints around the 16-acre trade center site.
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