A 20-year-old Virginia man who scaled part of the Trump Tower in New York City on Wednesday (10 August) was captured by police following a long standoff. The climber was first spotted late in the afternoon when he began scaling the 68-storey building with a contraption comprised of five suction cups.
Police and the fire department responded to the scene and were forced to remove vents and break holes in windows. The massive police response also involved helicopters and airbags. According to ABC News, NYPD Emergency Services officers tried to "safely isolate" the climber while they talked to him.
Police said the man began his climb from the 5th floor atrium, which is accessible to the public. According to the Associated Press (AP), the man identified himself to police as "Steve from Virginia" and said he wanted an audience with Republican nominee Donald Trump.
Around 6.35pm EDT (11.35pm BST), police were finally able to pull the man head first into the building after knocking out a window pane on the 21st floor. "I reached out. I took hold of his hand and I said: 'Sir, would you come with me,'" said detective Christopher Williams, who pulled him in.
The man was removed from the building on a stretcher.
A law enforcement source said there was no reason for the Secret Service to get involved as there was no apparent threat to Trump. An NYPD official said they did not suspect the climber had a weapon. "This is clearly a stunt guy," the official said. "The guy doesn't appear to be here to do anything evil."
NYPD Assistant Chief William Aubrey told the AP" "At no time did he express that he wanted to hurt anybody."
According to the New York Post, the man posted a video to YouTube before his climb to say he was a Trump supporter who dreamed of meeting him.
"The reason I climbed your tower was to get your attention," said the climber. "I'm an independent researcher seeking a private audience with you to discuss an important matter. I guarantee it is in your interest to honour this request. Believe me if my purpose was not significant I would not risk my life pursuing it."
The Trump campaign has not commented on the climber, but Trump Organization executive vice president, Michael Cohen, released a statement condemning the stunt. "This man performed a ridiculous and dangerous stunt. There's damage to the building and he caused the unnecessary deployment of New York's finest to protect his safety and the safety of everyone in the building," he said.
"He's caused the shutdown of traffic on Fifth Avenue," he continued. "I'm 100% certain the NYPD had better things to do. If Mr Trump were here he'd be thanking law enforcement for the job they're doing."
Trump later tweeted his support for police responding to the incident. "Great job today by the NYPD in protecting the people and saving the climber," he posted.