A New Jersey teenager managed to wiggle through a security fence then make his way past a guard to the spire atop 1 World Trade Center, the nation’s tallest building, where he took pictures before he was apprehended, officials said Thursday.
The boy, who authorities said was being treated as an adult, was charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass in the Sunday morning stunt and faces up to a year in jail if convicted.
Officials identified him as Justin Casquejo, 16, of Weehawken, N.J.
“We take security and these types of infractions very seriously and will prosecute violators,” Joseph Dunne, chief security officer for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the site, said in a statement. “We continue to reassess our security posture at the site and are constantly working to make this site as secure as possible.”
The World Trade Center was one of the targets of an Al Qaeda terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001, but has since been rebuilt. Colloquially known as Freedom Tower 1 World Trade Center is the primary building in the complex and is scheduled to open in the summer. Its spire reaches the symbolic height of 1,776 feet, to mark the year of the U.S. Declaration of Independence.
The teenager squeezed through a 1-foot-by-1-foot opening in the security fence around the site and entered the building about 4 a.m. Sunday, officials said.
According to a criminal complaint, the teen was quoted as telling police:
“I walked around the construction site and figured out how to access the Freedom Tower rooftop. I found a way up through the scaffolding, climbed onto the 6th floor, and took the elevator up to the 88th floor. I then took the staircase up to 104th (floor). I went to the rooftop and climbed the ladder all the way to the antenna.”
At the top floor, the teen walked past what officials said was “an inattentive” private security guard, who has since been dismissed.
The boy was arrested at the site along with a camera and a cellphone which have been confiscated and will be searched for pictures, officials said.
He was released without bail shortly after midnight Monday on one count of third-degree criminal trespass and one count of trespass.