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Teen accused of gaining access to top of WTC

By: Associated Press
March 20, 2014 Updated: March 20, 2014 at 9:03 am
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NEW YORK — A 16-year-old boy bypassed security in the middle of the night and climbed a ladder to the spire of 1 World Trade Center, the nation's tallest building, where he apparently took pictures, authorities said Thursday.

The teen was arrested at 6 a.m. Sunday and charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass.

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."

He was arrested on the premises, and his camera and cellphone were seized after authorities obtained a search warrant, said Joe Pentagelo, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the site.

Pentagelo said the teen got onto the construction site of the nearly completed tower through a 1-foot opening in a fence. He eluded a security guard on the 104th floor; the guard has since been fired, the spokesman said.

According to court papers, the teen was released without bail after being arraigned shortly after midnight Monday on one count of third-degree criminal trespass and one count of trespass. His lawyer didn't immediately return a phone call Thursday seeking comment.

The criminal trespass charge is a misdemeanor punished by up to three months in jail. The simple trespass is a violation punishable by up to 15 days in jail.

The complaint said the teen was observed inside the tower beyond numerous posted signs that stated: "Do not enter. No trespassing. Violators will be prosecuted."

"The defendant knowingly entered and remained unlawfully in a building and upon real property which was fenced and otherwise enclosed in a manner designed to exclude intruders," the court papers said.

Authorities were still trying to determine the teen's motive. WABC-TV reported that he took pictures from the top of the building, where he stayed for about two hours.

The investigation was continuing.

"We take security and these types of infractions very seriously and will prosecute violators," Joe Dunne, chief security officer for the Port Authority, 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 tower is scheduled to open later this year.

When completed, the World Trade Center site will have a $40 million security system, including barriers, guard booths and sally ports, or double-barrier systems creating areas to check vehicles for dangerous materials.

In February, a judge rejected a lawsuit challenging the security plan brought by nearby residents who said it would burden their neighborhood with fortress-like security.

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