The man who attempted to scale Trump Tower in New York City Wednesday afternoon has been identified as Michael Joseph Ryan, according to the New York Daily News. However, he had recently changed his name to Stephen Rogata, the newspaper reported.
The 19-year-old man from Great Falls, Virginia, first began his ascent at some point after 3 p.m. and calmly and methodically worked his way higher on the all-glass side of the the 68-story skyscraper using a combination of hand-held suction cups, a harness, ropes and some other apparent climbing gear.
His name change was confirmed in a tweet from a local reporter from WPIX-11. According to Myles Miller, he has been charged with reckless endangerment and criminal trespassing, both misdemeanors.
Wearing a backpack in addition to his other equipment, he repeatedly ignored orders to stop as the street below at 56th street and Madison Avenue was closed to traffic while law enforcement conducted its operation. Police were eventually able to grab and pull him inside the building on the 21st floor, safely taking him into custody around 6:35 p.m. and concluding the hours-long standoff.
Police said during a press conference afterward that the man scaled the building in an effort to talk to Trump, who calls the building both home to his presidential campaign as well as his primary residence. Trump was not on-site and was instead campaigning on his way to a rally in Florida. It was not immediately clear where Trump's wife, Melania Trump, was at the time.
One of Trump's employees expressed his apparent frustration over the ordeal in an email to the Associated Press. "This man performed a ridiculous and dangerous stunt," said Michael Cohen, an executive at the Trump Organization. "I'm 100 percent certain the NYPD had better things to do."
There was no indication of a potential terror threat and police responded in part with apparent patience and restraint as they tried to talk him out of continuing up the mammoth midtown Manhattan building, which is located on Fifth Avenue between 56th and 57th streets.
News of the man climbing quickly spread on social media, including video footage of him conversing with law enforcement and photos that showed him smiling at one point. He continuously spurned and ignored multiple attempts by police to extend ropes and other equipment to bring him to safety.
Police set up inflatable landing bags to cushion the man's fall should he drop and even broke through some of the building's windows in an attempt to bring him to safety, but he apparently declined while continuing to scale the tower. The city's emergency services unit responded along with tactical teams and negotiators.
Law enforcement manned a scaffolding unit typically used by window washers and attempted to lower themselves directly above the climber. In addition, police seemed to be trying to break through more glass above the climber in an apparent effort to stop the man from continuing to climb higher.
A video was posted Tuesday to YouTube titled, "Message to Mr. Trump (why I climbed your tower)," and appeared to show a man who had a resemblance to the person climbing Trump Tower, though it was not immediately clear if they were the same person. The 1:01-minute long video was posted by a user named Leven Thumps.
The man on the video does not identify himself but asks viewers to vote for Trump.
"I am an independent researcher seeking a private audience with you to discuss an important matter," the man says in part at the start of the video. "I guarantee that it is in your interest to honor this request. Believe me, if my purpose was not significant, I would not risk my life pursuing it."
The man on the video continued: "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. I'll get my contact information to your campaign so that if you are interested you can respond. As for anyone else who's watching, please help make this video go viral so that it gets to Mr. Trump and be sure to get out and vote for Mr. Trump in the 2016 election. Thank you."
The episode Wednesday started around 3:15 p.m. EDT, and about an hour and a half later local news outlets began reporting that his name was Steve and he was from Virginia. He reportedly said the purpose of his stunt — at least in part — was to get Trump's attention, which is consistent with what the man in the video said. However, it wasn't immediately clear what point he was trying to get across to the Republican presidential nominee.
Similar stunts have been staged at various other New York City skyscrapers. Most recently, a trio of daredevil skydivers scaled the Freedom Tower prior to its opening before jumping off of One World Trade Center. They filmed the entire nighttime episode with a helmet video camera. In that instance there was no political purpose, as they were apparently just thrill-seekers.
In 2008, two men scaled the New York Times building in midtown hours apart from each other. One was a seasoned stuntman who wanted to bring attention to malaria while the other was an "urban climber" from Brooklyn.