New York police yanked a man to safety after he eluded authorities for three hours as he scaled the outside of Trump Tower using suction cups.
The man, identified only as a 20-year-old from Virginia, was dragged inside the 21st floor by officers who had removed a large window pane Wednesday evening. The climber, using large suction cups and a harness, was spotted about 3:30 p.m. as he slowly made his way up the 58-story skyscraper in midtown Manhattan.
The climber posted an eerie video on YouTube Tuesday titled “Message to Mr. Trump,” in which he wore a hooded sweatshirt and claimed he was “an independent researcher seeking a private audience” with the billionaire hotel baron.
“Believe me, if my purpose was not significant, I would not risk my life pursuing it,” he says as he looks off-camera. “The reason I climbed your tower was to get your attention.”
Police sealed off streets Wednesday and fire department officials brought in huge air bags to cushion the man should he fall.
As the man ascended, police broke windows and descended in window-washing gondolas to try to block his path.
Finally, at about 6:30 p.m., policemen grabbed him as he tried to slither past them on the 21st floor. Officers wrestled him inside the window while he resisted. He was eventually pulled head-first into the building, leaving his legs dangling in the air.
Onlookers below erupted in cheers.
Trump Organization executive vice president Michael Cohen called the man’s climb a “ridiculous and dangerous stunt” in a statement. If Donald Trump, the GOP presidential nominee, “were here, he’d be thanking law enforcement for the job they’re doing,” Cohen said.
As the strange spectacle unfolded, rush-hour traffic came to a standstill in busy midtown as hundreds of gawkers gathered on surrounding streets. Thousands watched as the stand-off was live-streamed on Facebook and Periscope.
Social media exploded with posts ranging in tone from serious to sarcastic.
If Trump can’t keep people from climbing his tower, how’s he gonna keep them from climbing his wall? https://t.co/QLvqJAq1c8— Andrew Kirell (@AndrewKirell) August 10, 2016
Police attempted to talk the man into surrendering and grabbing a safety line, but he refused, officers said in a press conference after the man had been taken into custody.
He gave conflicting names to police and authorities said they were trying to ascertain his real identity.
The view from inside Trump Tower (Twitter)
The man arrived in New York Wednesday from Virginia and had been staying in a local hotel, police said. He didn’t intend to hurt anyone and his sole intention was to secure a private meeting with Trump, officers said.
He was removed from the building on a stretcher and was taken to Bellevue Hospital for a mental evaluation. Police and prosecutors were meeting Wednesday evening to determine what charges will be filed against him, authorities said.