WTC parachute jump condemned as ‘selfish act’

NEW YORK (AP) New York and New Jersey officials and police have denounced the parachute jump off 1 World Trade Center last fall by three skydiving enthusiasts as a lawless act that put others in danger.

“The Port Authority joins the NYPD in condemning this lawless and selfish act that clearly endangered the public,” the agency said in a statement early Tuesday. “One of the jumpers worked construction at the WTC and violated the spirit of respect and reverence for this sacred site that almost all connected with the WTC project feel.”

Four men 〞 three daredevils and someone accused of being an accomplice 〞 were arrested Monday in connection with the Sept. 30 “base jumping” from America’s tallest building. They were arraigned on charges including felony burglary.

“These arrests should send a message to anyone thinking about misusing a landmark this way,” Police Commissioner William Bratton said. “Being a thrill-seeker does not give immunity from the law.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city wanted to “deepen” its coordination with Port Authority police to address the situation. “It’s obviously not an acceptable state of affairs but we think it’s one that together that we can resolve,” he said.

The arrests came days after a New Jersey teenager was accused of unlawfully entering the site, eluding an inattentive security guard and spending about two hours atop the 1,776-foot(541.3-meter)-tall tower. The skyscraper, still under construction, crowns the rebuilt World Trade Center, a project steeped in security concerns.

The New York Police Department said last fall that investigators were looking for two parachutists in dark jumpsuits seen floating near the building around 3 a.m. on Sept. 30, landing by a nearby skyscraper and walking away.

It was “very exhilarating,” one of the accused jumpers, Andrew Rossig, said Monday as he and co-defendant James Brady headed to a police precinct to surrender.

“It’s a fair amount of free-fall time,” he said. “You really get to enjoy the view of the city and see it from a different perspective.”

Rossig, an avid BASE jumper 〞 the acronym stands for “building, antenna, span, earth” 〞 said the skydivers took care to keep from endangering anyone, choosing a time when streets would be largely deserted. Brady, an ironworker who formerly worked at the trade center, declined to comment.

It wasn’t immediately clear how investigators zeroed in on them. Police searched their homes last month and got video of the jump, which hadn’t been posted online or otherwise publicized, Rossig attorney Timothy Parlatore said. But he said authorities didn’t signal arrests were imminent until 16-year-old Justin Casquejo’s arrest last week.

The NYPD devotes more than 200 officers, surveillance cameras and other technology to protect the perimeter of the site, while Port Authority police and private security agents guard the inside. Ultimately, plans call for a $40 million system of barriers and checkpoints around the 16-acre(6.48-hectare) trade center site.

But Rossig said the jumpers got in simply by walking through a gap in a fence, echoing an account the Port Authority says Casquejo gave police about what he did. Casquejo faces a misdemeanor trespassing charge.
(Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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