NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A 19-year-old Virginia man who didn’t have trouble getting into Trump Tower, scaled the facade of the building using large suction cups in what he claimed was an effort to seek “a private audience” with Donald Trump has been charged, police said Thursday.
Stephen Rogata, of Great Falls, Virginia, was arrested for reckless endangerment and criminal trespassing, police said. He has been undergoing a psychological evaluation at Bellevue Hospital Center.READ MORE: New York City Rolls Out $100 Incentive For Getting Vaccinated As CDC Report Warns Delta Variant As Contagious As Chicken Pox
PHOTOS: Man Climbs Trump Tower
Rogata climbed as high as the 21st floor of the building Wednesday before officers grabbed him and pulled him to safety through an open window.
“I reached out, took hold of his hand and said, ‘Sir, you need to come with me,'” said Detective Christopher Williams, who grabbed the climber.
CBS2’s Christine Sloan reported Rogata easily got into the building.
“Well, you just kind of open the door and walk through,” said Paul Grimsland of the Upper East Side.
CBS2’s Sloan used an iPhone to see how easy it was for Rogata to do what he did. He took an escalator to the fourth floor, came to the public garden, and more than likely walked on a ledge to the south side of the building.
Former NYPD Sgt. Manny Gomez said the climber should have been caught sooner.
“So I am sure they are going over film as we speak and trying to figure out how exactly this person was able to get so high, so fast, without anyone stopping him,” Gomez said.
A number of NYPD officers were on guard Thursday at the building. The Trump Organization had no comment on security and directed inquiries to the Secret Service.
Rogata apparently drove his dad’s car to New York City from Virginia and left a notebook on the ground level of Trump Tower, alluding to the YouTube video he posted where he said he had an important message for Trump.
“The reason I climbed your tower was to get your attention. If I sought this via conventional means, I would be much less likely to have success,” Rogata said in the video.
Police reportedly have a laptop that fell out of his backpack.
Rogata’s neighbor in Virginia said he was shocked at what happened.
“He’s a nice young man who’s had some troubles with school and things like that in the last year. Up to that point, he was a model student, a model person,” the neighbor said.
There is private security inside Trump Tower and signs saying that bags are subject to a search.
It all began around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. Hundreds watched from below on the ground as a man, wearing a backpack with a harness and rope stirrups, methodically climbed Trump Tower using suction cups.
“I think he’s probably a nut job trying to get to the top,” said tourist Tracy O’Brien.READ MORE: Broadway Vaccine Mandate: Audiences Must Be Vaccinated And Masked; Performers, Crew And Staff Required To Be Vaccinated
Joe Lepore admits he’s one of the many glued to the live coverage.
“I was here Tuesday and there were Secret Service every five feet so Wednesday when it starts breaking out that this guy is climbing, I’m thinking how can that even be possible?” he told CBS2’s Janelle Burrell.
Rogata began his ascent a few stories up from an outdoor terrace and used the suction cups to continue inching his way up on the glass. In video taken from inside the tower, the sound of the powerful suctions can be heard as they attached to the building.
Police trying to corner him cut open windows while others were lowered in large buckets to surround him. A large, inflated crash pad was also deployed at the scene in case he fell.
After about three hours, the NYPD was able to grab him after removing a large window pane from the 21st floor and drag him inside to safety.
NYPD Assistant Chief William Aubry said the climber came from Virginia to New York City on Tuesday and stayed in a local hotel Tuesday night, adding that he had various identifications in his backpack.
“He wanted Mr. Trump’s attention and wanted to meet him,” Aubry stated.
On Tuesday, police said he posted a video on YouTube directed to Trump entitled, “Message to Mr. Trump (why I climbed your tower).”
“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 on the video. “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.”
Michael Cohen, an executive at the Trump Organization, called it “a ridiculous and dangerous stunt.”
“I’m 100 percent certain the NYPD had better things to do,” he said.
The Trump building has its own private security, but it’s not clear if anyone was stationed on the outdoor terrace.
Trump, who was actually in Rogata’s home state of Virginia for part of the day Wednesday, tweeted: “Great job today by the NYPD in protecting the people and saving the climber.”