The VICE Guide to the 2016 Election

What We Know About 'Steve,' the Guy Who Climbed Trump Tower with Suction Cups

He made it to the 21st floor before getting nabbed.
August 10, 2016, 9:36pm
Photo by Julie Jacobson/AP Photo

A mysterious YouTube video posted the day before the climb

On Wednesday, a 20-year-old man apparently known as Steve used suction cup climbing equipment to execute a spectacular ascent up the face of Trump Tower, Donald Trump's iconic mixed-use skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan. He told police he was trying to get the Republican presidential candidate's attention—but what exactly the human fly wants to buzz in Trump's ear is not yet known.

The climb began around 4 PM and continued until NYPD emergency responders pulled the man through a window against his will at 6:43 PM. He never made it as high as Trump's personal penthouse.

At a press conference on Wednesday evening, NYPD officials said that the climber is undergoing psychiatric evaluation at Bellevue Hospital. "At no time did he express that he wanted to hurt anybody," the NYPD said. "His whole intention was to meet with Mr. Trump."

Police also confirmed that the climber was a 20-year-old man from Virginia. According to local news reports, the man identified himself to police as Steve. At the press conference Wednesday, investigators said they had recovered multiple forms of ID from the climber, and that he told officers that "he previously went by one name and now he goes by another name."

In a YouTube video uploaded on August 9—the day before the climb—a man in a hoodie with similar hair and face shape as that of the climber addresses Trump directly, telling him, "The reason I climbed your tower was to get your attention." He claims to be an "independent researcher seeking a private audience" to discuss an "important matter."

"If I had sought this via conventional means, I would be much less likely to have success because you are a busy man with many responsibilities," the hoodied young man explains. He then implores viewers to "be sure to get out and vote for Mr. Trump."

According to CBS New York, Steve began his ascent from a ground-level terrace of Trump's building. The terrace slanted up to the main tower structure, forcing the climber to take a diagonal pattern for the first few minutes of his climb, attracting the attention of onlookers.

We just received this picture of the Trump Tower climber from inside the building. (Photo: — Eyewitness News (@ABC7NY)August 10, 2016

His direct ascent was interrupted when police broke a window from the inside and attempted to coax him to safety. He refused their entreaties, and to avoid apprehension, he took a sideways trajectory for several minutes. Once out of reach, he resumed his climb.

By that time, emergency crews had arrived, inflating a large yellow fire escape cushion on the sidewalk. Hundreds of onlookers had gathered on the sidewalks to watch.

By 6 PM, "Steve" had made it to approximately the 20th of the building's 58 floors. At that point, emergency responders above him somehow let loose a glass panel, which whizzed past the climber. Eventually, though, the officers removed enough of a window panel to block the climber's path upward. But once again, he changed course to avoid them.

At around 6:40, at the 21st floor, emergency crews opened a window much closer to the climber and attempted to get him in. At first, he shielded himself with one of his suction cups and appeared to argue with his would-be captors.

Then, as he tried to climb up a narrow sliver of glass next to the open window, the cops snatched him, struggling with him for several seconds before being pulled to apparent safety. He was later carried out of the building on a stretcher.

Photo shows Trump Tower climbing suspect being removed from the building on a stretcher. — ABC News (@ABC)August 10, 2016

As all this went on, Trump himself was miles away, campaigning in Steve's apparent home state of Virginia. At press time, neither Trump nor his campaign has commented on Steve's attempted ascent to his office. But in a statement to the press, Trump Organization official Michael Cohen called the climb "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's caused the shutdown of traffic on Fifth Avenue," Cohen said. "I'm 100 percent 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."

The NYPD said Wednesday that police are working with the Manhattan district attorney's office to determine what charges to file against Steve for the climb.

Follow Mike Pearl on Twitter.