It’s been sixteen years since 9/11, and in that time period our new normal includes heightened security. Even with extra vigilance, terrible things still happen and people are still being killed by violent terrorists bent on wreaking havoc in society. Thankfully, a situation at 1 World Trade Center on Thursday morning was quickly contained by alert security guards who discovered a grenade inside of a backpack.
Twenty-four-year-old Christopher Warren of Maryland attempted to smuggle the grenade inside of the Freedom Tower. However, security guards spotted it when Warren put his backpack through the x-ray machine shortly after 10:00 a.m. The bomb squad was summoned, and the grenade was determined to be inert. Christopher Warren was arrested by the Port Authority police and charged with disorderly conduct. According to a report published by Tribeca Patch, more charges are pending.
Warren’s motives for attempting to smuggle an inert grenade inside of the Freedom Tower have yet to be determined. Whether simply a prank or something more nefarious from Warren, it’s encouraging to know that the security guards at the Freedom Tower noticed the smuggled grenade. Just three years ago, the head of security for the World Trade Center plaza was forced out due to a series of embarrassing security lapses.
According to an article published by the New York Post in 2014, about a month after David Velazquez took over security at the WTC, “BASE jumpers parachuted from the roof. And two weeks ago, a teen from New Jersey also beat security by sneaking up to the antenna. Velazquez is also responsible for the half-blind security guard who was caught sleeping in the lobby in a photo obtained exclusively by The Post.”
Detailing the security breaches, the Post writes:
Three daredevils — including a Freedom Tower ironworker — parachuted from the 104th floor with the help of a lookout on the ground. They were busted six months later.
Two weeks ago, Justin Casquejo, 16, slipped through a fence and made it all the way to the roof — sneaking past a sleeping guard on the 104th floor. That breach was first reported by The Post. Casquejo spent two hours snapping pictures before getting caught.
Just six days later, the aging, half-blind security guard, Abdul Basher, 65, was sleeping in the south lobby, where he was the only guard on duty.
Justin Casequejo’s prank revealed that at the time, the Freedom Tower didn’t have any working surveillance cameras inside of the building. Installed about a year after the event, the Port Authority refused to comment on the lack of working cameras at the time. The oversight allowed Justin and his friends to stake out the building and plan the prank. The sleeping security guard on the 104th floor was an added bonus, so to speak, for the prankster.
Thankfully, based on the most recent incident involving the inert grenade, it appears that the security at the Freedom Tower has vastly improved over the last three years. Considering the number of tourists that visit the site each and every year and the fact that the Freedom Tower makes a plum target for terrorists bent on replicating 9/11, the improved security is a blessing.