Bridge Prank Trips N.Y. Terror Alert

From Reuters

Three drunken men climbed a New York bridge as a prank Friday, shutting the span, sparking an anti-terrorism response and snarling traffic, officials said.

Police said they arrested the three after they were spotted during the morning rush hour climbing the cables of the Williamsburg Bridge linking Manhattan and Brooklyn across the East River.

Helicopters, radiation detection units and bomb squads -- on high alert since the Sept. 11 attacks and stepped up since the war on Iraq began -- converged on the area.

But police said the incident was not terrorism-related and nothing suspicious was found. Police proceeded to search all of the city’s bridges and tunnels as a precaution, officials said.


Deputy Police Chief Bruce Smolka said the men “had been drinking all night” and looked “scruffy.”

They were identified as John Izzi, 26, of Warwick, R.I.; Joshua Ferranto, 29, of Boston; and Tekomah Goggins, 29, of West Tisbury, Mass. They all were charged with reckless endangerment, criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct. Goggins also was charged with resisting arrest.

One suspect told officers he had climbed the bridge once before and wanted to do it again with his two friends, Smolka said.

“They had successfully defeated the bridge’s suicide gate ... we are very concerned they were able to get so far,” Smolka said.

New York’s bridges have suicide gates, with steel spikes, to prevent people from leaving the roads or walkways.

Friday’s prank closed the bridge for more than two hours and snarled traffic in Manhattan.

In recent weeks, calls about suspicious packages and other false alarms have risen sharply in New York.