Police searching for 3 men who allegedly base jumped off Trump Tower, disappeared

June 20, 2013 9:44:33 PM PDT
Police have released surveillance photos of the three suspects they say broke into the Trump International Hotel and Tower and parachuted off its highest point before disappearing, police said.

92 stories. 1,170 feet. That's the distance from the roof of the Trump Tower to the ground below. The base-jumping trio landed somewhere on the street below, then disappeared. Police say they received calls from patrons of the Trump who witnessed the incident.

The building, which is the second tallest in the city, is located at 401 N. Wabash Avenue. Authorities are investigating and trying to obtain a description of the suspects.

"I think it's impossible. That's my reaction. I don't know how anyone would get up there on the 91st floor of the building, it is like Fort Knox," said Ken Grossman, Trump Tower resident.

Grossman lives on the 57th floor of the luxury hotel-condo building that towers 92 stories over the Chicago River. He says access is highly restricted even for residents.

"I can only go to my floor. I have a FOB I hit the elevator thing and it only goes to my floor and I don't know how anyone would get up to the 91st floor," he said. The three men scaled the stairs of the Trump Tower. One of them even wore a tie, presumably to blend in when he entered the high-end hotel and condo building. Police say they cut through a locked door to access the roof 92 stories above Chicago. And then, they jumped. Professional jumpers did the same thing, from the same place, during the filming of Transformers 3 back in 2010.

In 2011, a British man made a similar jump from a high-rise under construction just across the river. He had the misfortune of landing right in front of Chicago Police officer who promptly arrested him. Why do he and other base jumpers do it?

"The rear of the building was just free access, it wasn't even boarded up or anything. It's one of those moments that few people out there will realize. You just can't resist," said Shaun Walters, who was arrested after the 2011 high-rise jump.

And who could forget the scene over Chicago in 1981. Spider Dan, as he became known, made it to the top of what was then called the Sears Tower. A few months later, Chicago Police and Fire was less entertained when he pulled the same stunt at the Hancock Building.

"I think he has taken a terrific risk and I think he's setting a bad example for an awful lot of kids," said the Chicago Fire commissioner, back in 1981. Firefighters turned the hoses on Spider Dan but he kept on climbing. He made it to the top and police rewarded him with set of metal handcuffs and an arrest.

Using a skyscraper as a launching pad sound unimaginable to most, but base-jumping, as it's called, is second-nature to Luke Aikins.

"When your foot is still on the building, but you've committed to moving forward, so there's no way to go back but your foot is still on the edge, that's an unbelievable feeling of commitment," said Aikins.

Aikins is a member of the Red Bull Air Force, a team of high-flying daredevils who've made spectacular jumps around the world, including at the Chicago Air and Water Show.

Aikins has mixed feelings about the jump from the Trump.

"One side of me is like, 'Oh cool,' and the other side is, 'Man it's just going to make it harder for those of us trying to do it legally in the future,'" said Aikins.

The three men sought by police were spotted by Trump surveillance cameras. One of them is shown wearing a tie, perhaps to blend in while entering the building.

"We're looking to determine what happened, who did it, and where appropriate we will make arrests," said Chicago Police Dept. Supt. Garry McCarthy.


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