World Trade Center security chief resigns amid lapses

Parachute jumpers, a 16-year-old daredevil and a sleeping security guard have made the site of the nation’s tallest building -- and the nation’s worst terrorist attack -- look dangerously easy to breach.

On Friday, the security chief for New York City’s World Trade Center complex resigned, his company’s spokesman confirmed in an email to the Los Angeles Times.

David Velazquez had been working since last August as assistant security director for the real estate firm Durst Organization. Velazquez and the company took over security of the World Trade Center in January, said Jordan Barowitz, the director of external affairs at Durst.


Velazquez is still with the company temporarily, assisting through a transition period. He didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment about his resignation, and Barowitz said the resignation letter would not be made public.

Security lapses over the last six months at the World Trade Center have drawn worldwide attention to the firm.

A complex of buildings is rising up on the same plot of land just a few dozen feet from where the twin towers were felled by a terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001. The flagship tower 1 World Trade Center is expected to open this summer. A museum on the site memorializing the attacks is scheduled to open May 21.

New York officials have spent millions of dollars protecting the site, including saturating the area with officers and making visitors pass through metal detectors to reach fountains memorializing the victims of the attacks.

Despite the measures, three skydivers in the middle of the night last September managed to reach one of the top floors and parachute onto the streets of Lower Manhattan. That incident led to charges this month against four men accused of felony burglary and other minor crimes. One of their attorneys told The Times that the men slipped through a hole in a fence. The fourth man was the alleged getaway driver.

A 16-year-old arrested earlier this month for climbing the 1 World Trade Center’s spire also said he breached the security perimeter through a hole in the fence.

Last weekend, a security guard was fired after snoozing on the job, the New York Post reported. To make things worse, the former guard told the paper that he had hazy vision in one eye and was overwhelmed by his duties. The 16-year-old told authorities that he sneaked past another sleeping guard, who was fired as well, the newspaper reported.

Velazquez was formerly a long-time employee of the FBI. He briefly served as head of the agency’s Newark office.

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