Daredevil’s climb to top of WTC reveals no working cameras in tower
By Philip Messing, Kenneth Garger and Bruce Golding
March 20, 2014 | 11:06pm
Justin Casquejo, 16, right, was able to get away with his Freedom Tower high jinks in part because there are no working security cameras inside. Photo: Reuters; Robert Kalfus
The Freedom Tower, America’s top terror target, doesn’t have a single working surveillance camera inside — a stunning security lapse that let a New Jersey teen roam the top floors undetected for two hours, The Post has learned.
The video system for 1 World Trade Center “won’t be operational until the building opens later this year,” said a source familiar with the security plan.
That means there is no footage of Justin Casquejo, 16, as he slipped by a sleeping guard to the antenna of the 1,776-foot-tall building Sunday morning.
“This place has a big bull’s-eye on it, and I don’t even want to think what could have happened if it was somebody with bad intentions,” said a hardhat at the site Thursday.
Asked about the lack of working cameras, a Port Authority spokesman said only, “The deployment of the hardware is confidential.”
The lanky Casquejo breached several layers of protection at the site after three visits, said his best friends who helped plan the adventure.
“We went a total of two times together, and Justin went one other time alone,” said Steven Peralta, 16, of North Bergen, NJ.
“He left my house at 9:30 Saturday night, and I wished him good luck. He looked confident.”
The other friend, Trevor Gidden, 16, said, “We all knew he was going to get in.”
“We planned everything. We searched and circled the location,” he added.
Peralta said the plan all along was for Casquejo to go in alone.
“We’re all crazy, but he’s the one with the balls,” he said.
Casquejo was captured on a perimeter camera entering the site through a small hole in a fence along Church Street at around 4:10 a.m., sources said.
The PA, which owns the site, wouldn’t say who was supposed to be monitoring the camera, but a source said that duty is shared by the agency’s cops and the private Summit Security firm that guards Ground Zero.
Casquejo, of Weehawken, told cops he first climbed scaffolding to the sixth floor, then conned an elevator operator into giving him a lift to the 88th.
From there, he hiked up the stairs to the 104th, slipped past a snoozing security guard and made his way to the antenna.
Several construction workers in the tower saw and ignored the obviously underage boy — until he was finally stopped by a supervisor who called the cops.
He was charged with misdemeanor trespassing and released pending an April 2 court date.
His Legal Aid lawyer, Pamela Griffith, declined to comment.
Casquejo enjoyed his new notoriety Thursday morning, strutting into school with a copy of The Post that exclusively ran his story on the front page.
“Wow. Geez. This is crazy,” Casquejo said.
“I knew what I did was a big deal, but I didn’t think it was going to be this big.
“I’m gonna be stalked like a celebrity now, right? How long is this going to last?”
Casquejo’s caper was the talk of Weekhawken HS, where the administration mentioned it in morning announcements and instructed students not to speak with reporters.
One of Casquejo’s pals described him as an “adrenaline junkie” who is into parkour, a sport in which athletes race through urban environments as if running an obstacle course.
Patrick Flores, 18, recalled once seeing Casquejo, then in seventh grade, hanging from the roof of their school by one hand and saying, “What’s up, guys?”
“He loves the rush. He’s one of the craziest guys in the world,” Flores said.