Tourist's Selfie Atop Brooklyn Bridge Renews Security Concerns

An Instagram selfie showing a tourist posing atop the Brooklyn Bridge has renewed concerns about bridge security in New York City as the July 4th holiday approaches.

David Karnauch took the photo after he climbed the bridge on impulse, he said. He was never questioned or stopped.

"You could just get on a beam and it actually had handrails on the left and right side, and I just walked across the bridge and turned around to take a picture," he told NBC 4 New York over Skype from his home in Chattanooga, Tennesse. 

"I don't recommend anybody else do it. It's not a smart thing to do because I know they take security on the bridges seriously," he said. 


😎 #newyorkcity#nyc#again#vscocam#gopro#goprophotography#adventureaddiction @kameleonz

A photo posted by David Karnauch (@davidkarny) on Jun 29, 2015 at 2:38pm PDT

In fact,  the NYPD and other law enforcement officials have been calling for vigilance as July 4th approaches amid some of the highest terror chatter in years. In the last two weeks, there have been three ISIS-related raids in New York and New Jersey, and four arrests. 

Nevertheless, the NYPD said in a statement Tuesday it doesn't consider Karnauch's climb a security breach.

"The person most endangered was the individual whose goal seems to be bringing attention to himself," NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorisn John J. Miller said in a statement to NBC 4 New York. "It was however, irresponsible and illegal. Had the officers patrolling the bridge arrived while he was there, he would have been arrested, as others have been. When he called the act 'not a smart thing to do,' he described it correctly." 

Miller added at a news conference Wednesday that Karnauch wouldn't have been able to get much further on the crossover because there is a fence that's "very difficult to climb around." 

"He looked at that and he said, 'Damn, I'm not getting around that, so I'll take my selfie stick and I'll take this stupid picture and I'll put it on my website,' but that's as far as he got," said Miller, calling Karnauch a "knucklehead." 

He reiterated: "If he'd stayed there probably a couple more minutes to get that shot, the roving patrols on the bridge, which are there all the time, would have arrested him or summonsed him as they had had others who have done the same stupid thing," he said. 

Still, the fact that Karnauch was able to get up so easily worried some New Yorkers crossing the iconic bridge Tuesday night.

"It's not only dangerous for the person, but dangerous for the pedestrian crossing the bridge," said Mark D'Alessandro of Brooklyn, who often walks across the bridge with his son.

He added, "It's not the only bridge we have a problem with. New York is big, we have a lot of landmarks." 

Miller said "that particular spot on the bridge has nothing to do with the structural integrity of the bridge from a terrorism standpoint."

"To conflate that behavior with a threat to the 4th of July... is to try and take a story that is no story to build it up into something more than it is," he told reporters. 

He said at the news conference that the NYPD's terrorism bureau has conducted a threat assessment and there is no known credible threat to New York City or the 4th of July celebration. 

Karnauch's stunt follows a year of bridge breaches. In November, French tourist Yonathin Souid climbed the bridge to take photos, and Russian tourist Yaroslav Kolchin climbed a beam last August. Each was sentenced to community service.

On July 22, 2014, two bleached-white American flags were found planted on the bridge span. Two German artists claimed they'd installed the flags as part of a project to celebrate the German engineer who designed the bridge.

"It just shows the NYPD can't be everywhere all the time. We need to create an environment where this isn't possible," said state senator Daniel Squadron, who supported a measure to toughen penalties on bridge climbers. The bill stalled in Albany. 

More than 120,000 vehicles, 4,000 pedestrians and 3,100 bicyclists cross the Brooklyn Bridge every day, said the city's Department of Transportation, which maintains the crossing.

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