The Virginia man who scaled Trump Tower in an effort to speak to the Republican presidential nominee was charged Thursday morning but remained in the hospital under psychiatric evaluation, police said.
The 19-year-old climber, Stephen Rogata, from Great Falls, Virginia, was charged with reckless endangerment and criminal trespass.
But a police source said Rogata, who was found with multiple IDs when he was pulled through an open window to safety after climbing for three hours, had actually changed his name from Michael Joseph Ryan.
“I wouldn’t say he was a risk taker. He was kind of low key,” said Maxwell Luo, who attended high school with Rogata. “This is not really something I would expect.”
Luo, 18, recalled a quiet guy who was on the debate team and part of the young Republicans club, but said he left high school before the rest of his class. He mentioned to people he wanted to start his own business.
“He was pretty well spoken,” Luo said of Rogata.
Fellow classmate Vik Chawla, 19, said he and Rogata were both members of Interact Rotary, a community service club.
Chawla said Rogata told him about two years ago he was creating a website.
“He said it was for research,” Chawla said, but he didn’t know if the site was ever live or the nature of the research.
According to Rogata’s Facebook page, under the name Michael Ryan, he interned at the Fairfax County Republican Committee in 2013.
“It is our understanding that a Michael Ryan was an intern with our organization some time before 2014, but we cannot confirm that it was the same individual,” the committee’s Executive Director Eric Johnson said in a statement. “There is nobody of that name currently employed by the FCRC as an intern or in any other capacity, nor do we have a member by that name.”
A video titled “Message to Mr. Trump (why I climbed your tower)” shows a man who resembles Rogata. In the video, the man does not identify himself except to say he is “an independent researcher seeking a private audience with to discuss an important matter.” He said he climbed the tower to get Trump’s attention, adding that if he had used “conventional means,” he would not be successful.
At the end of the video he encouraged viewers to share his message and vote for Trump in the election.