Va. residents surprised to learn Trump Tower climber was neighbor

A 19-year-old Great Falls man is undergoing a psychological evaluation at a New York hospital after climbing Trump Tower with suction cups.

Stephen Rogata has been charged with reckless endangerment and criminal trespassing after he climbed to the 21st floor of the building in hopes of meeting Donald Trump. Rogata is seen in a YouTube video explaining why he planned to scale the tower apparently posted before the stunt.

While police may know the Trump Tower climber as Rogata, they said he had recently changed his name,  and residents in his Great Falls neighborhood actually have known him as Michael Ryan. He is the oldest of four children and neighbors described his family as lovely with model parents. But neighbors also said Rogata marched to the beat of a different drum and has recently had some troubles.

Residents in the Northern Virginia neighborhood said they all learned about Rogata’s climb on the glass façade of the building while watching the news on Wednesday. But they had no idea the climber was him until reporters began showing up in the neighborhood.

A.J. Steger said he has known the Ryan family for years and was stunned to learn the man on the side of the tower using suction cups was his neighbor. He was not aware the 19-year-old was a climber and described his neighbors as a model family.

"If you could see parents who know how to take care of children, they knew how,” said Steger. “They are the best parents I have ever seen.”

Other neighbors said the same thing.

"They are fine people,” said another neighbor. “I believe he is a captain in the Navy, the fellow living there now, and he has a lovely family.”

Another resident in this Great Falls neighborhood said Rogata had attended Langley High School, but did not want to continue with school. He said he worked for a landscaping company and believed that Rogata had a bit of interest in politics and Trump.

“We had him for dinner the other day and he’s fine,” he said. "I never heard of him climbing anything. He's a nice boy.”

Neighbors said they were surprised to hear the name Stephen Rogata and his new name made no sense to them.