Who is 'Steve from Virginia,' the Trump Tower climber?

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Thursday, August 11, 2016
Man who climbed Trump Tower believed to have posted YouTube video
Josh Einiger reports from Midtown.

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- The man who led police on a cat-and-mouse chase up the side of Trump Tower in Midtown Wednesday afternoon and into the evening has been identified as 19-year-old Stephen Rogata, of Great Falls, Virginia.

Rogata claimed to be a researcher seeking "a private audience" with GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump spent three hours scaling the glass facade of the building using large suction cups before officers hauled him to safety through an open window.

Here are photos showing the climber:

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A man scales the all-glass facade of Trump Tower using suction cups Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016, in New York.
AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

Officials said he took his father's car and drove to New York Tuesday night, checking into the Bowery Grand Hotel at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Rogata wore a backpack and used a harness and rope stirrups to fasten himself to the side of the 68-story Manhattan skyscraper. Starting at 3 p.m., he climbed as high as the 21st floor before officers grabbed him. He is undergoing a psychological evaluation at Bellevue Hospital and has been charged with reckless endangerment and criminal trespass.

Rogata was known as Michael Joseph Ryan, but recently changed his name and had new identification with him. It is unclear if Rogata is his legal name.

He posted a video on YouTube Tuesday outlining his plan and intentions.

Detectives determined quickly that Rogata posed a threat only to himself and responding officers, who had to rescue him off the building.

"At no time did he express that he wanted to hurt anybody," NYPD Assistant Chief William Aubry said. "His sole intention was to meet with Mr. Trump."

It is unclear exactly what he wished to discuss with the presidential nominee, though he purported to be a fan in his video and encouraged people to "get out and vote for Mr. Trump in the 2016 election."

A close family friend and neighbor of the Ryan family said Michael was a "nice kid, the boy next door." In an interview with ABC News, Carolyn Garofalo said the Ryan family returned from Europe Wednesday night before learning Michael had made the climb.

Before the family left for Europe, Carolyn said she and her husband had the Ryans over for dinner at their home and that she noticed nothing unusual about Michael. She said he was in a good mood, and that they they didn't discuss politics.

According to the neighbor, Michael did not graduate from high school but does have his GED. She wondered if Michael had ever been to New York before.

Michael was employed at Pots & Plants on the Pike, a nursery close to his family home. ABC News confirmed with the nursery that Michael worked there, but they did not want to comment. A coworker said Michael was in gifted and talented classes growing up and was very smart.