Three daredevils accused of parachuting off the top of 1 World Trade Center along with an alleged accomplice turned themselves in to authorities Monday - and then released video of the Batman-like stunt.
Daredevils James Brady, 32; Andrew Rossig, 33; Marko Markovich, 27; and Kyle Hartwell, 29 - who is accused of being their ground man - are charged with felony burglary, misdemeanor reckless endangerment and misdemeanor jumping from a structure.
The four men were released last night on $3,500 bail and pleaded not guilty. They could face up to seven years in prison.
The heart-stopping video from Sept. 30 was also released yesterday on YouTube. The leap off the nation's tallest building is seen in first person from a helmet cam.
One of the daredevils is seen plummeting from the 1,776-foot tall building before pulling the rip cord over a before-dawn Manhattan. After landing several blocks from the building, the thrill-seeker stuffed the parachute into his bag.
"Everybody has their thing. This is our thing…we were thinking that very clearly that everything was working out for us to make a clean safe jump," Brady, who was a construction worker at the site, told ABC News after the arraignment.
Rossig said the jumpers got in simply by walking through a gap in a fence.
"We found a spot where the cameras were not picking up and there happened to be a hole in the fence as well," Rossig told ABC News.
New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton said nearby surveillance cameras captured the stunt and they used the footage to track down the four men after a nearly six-month investigation.
"Just a little snippet of video that we had of someone landing on the West Side Highway with a parachute around 4 a.m. That's all we had to work with initially," Bratton told ABC News Station WABC-TV.
Rossig described the stunt as a "peaceful, quiet moment" that was never meant to hurt anyone.
"It's six months after the fact, and we were a little bit shocked that they spent that much time and energy continuing to pursue something that they knew was not a terroristic act," he said.
Monday's arrests comes days after 16-year-old Justin Casquejo was arrested on charges of climbing up to the top of the nation's biggest skyscraper. The lawyer says the timetable for the daredevils to surrender to police was sped up last week after Casquejo climbed to the top of 1 World Trade undetected.
"I can assume that the Post Authority Police and the NYPD is a little bit embarrassed by this whole situation," defense attorney Tim Parlatore said, according to WABC, prior to the arraignment.
The men kept the jump and the video a secret at until police showed up with search warrants. They finally decided to post the video online after they turned themselves in.
"Our intent was never for this to go public," Rossig said. "We never posted the video footage. People didn't know about it. We kept things quiet. As far as we were concerned, no one ever needed to know."
The building, which has yet to officially open, is owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which has promised iron-clad security at the site. Nearby, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum is set to open in May to commemorate the nearly 3,000 people who were killed when terrorists flew planes into the twin towers in 2001.
- Society & Culture
- Crime & Justice