Seattle police spent hours Tuesday trying to coax a man out of an 80-foot-tall tree near the downtown Macy’s store.
#ManInTree is now #ManOnGround. Full story here.
Update, 7:15 a.m.
He’s still up there. Check for updates Wednesday here.
Seattle police negotiators spent a frustrating day Tuesday trying to coax a man down from an 80-foot-tall tree outside the downtown Macy’s store after a passer-by called 911 to report that someone had scaled the massive conifer.
As of 9:30 p.m., more than 10 hours after the 911 report, the man still had not come down.
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“It is quite a spectacle, honestly,” police spokesman Patrick Michaud said Tuesday afternoon. The incident attracted onlookers, closed off downtown streets and spawned a parody Twitter account: @Man_In_Tree.
“We want to make sure he’s OK and that he can get down from the tree without hurting himself or someone else,” Michaud said. “We’re on his schedule — we’re not going to rush it with someone at the top of a tall tree. If you rush it, it could become dangerous.”
Police and firefighters responded to Stewart Street and Third Avenue around 11:20 a.m. Tuesday after receiving reports that the man had climbed about 70 feet up the sequoia tree in a street median. Officers, believing the man posed a danger to himself, pedestrians and motorists, closed several surrounding streets.
Police said the man also claimed to be carrying a knife.
Negotiators used an extended ladder from a truck to climb near the man and try to persuade him to get down. The man responded by yelling obscenities and, at one point, hurled an apple at medics.
Witnesses say the bearded man in a red-knit cap and checkerboard-pattern jacket also tossed pieces of tree branch.
“He’s just been up in the tree for a few hours now, cussing at people and throwing pine cones,” witness Braden Foley said.
The tree has been decorated during Christmastime.
Around 2:45 p.m., the man began stripping off branches from the top and tossed them at a police negotiator. The negotiator caught most of them.
The daylong standoff impacted downtown traffic for hours.
Two King County Metro Transit routes, the 25 to Portage Bay and Laurelhurst and the 66 to Roosevelt and Northgate, were rerouted. Those lines were diverting outbound to the north of the tree using Virginia Street, then returning to Olive Way east of Fifth Avenue.
Also, some electric trolley buses were being pushed through a transition zone on Stewart Street, where the Fire Department asked electric buses to retract their power poles, transit spokeswoman Rochelle Ogershok said. These buses were being repositioned at the end of a new run, so they weren’t carrying passengers, she said.
Some watching the scene unfold said the tree-climber may be a homeless man who frequents the area.
“I’ve seen him around downtown,” James Arriola said.
Michaud, the police spokesman, said as far as he knew, police were not contemplating seeking criminal charges against the man.
“I think we’re more concerned about him getting out of the tree safely. And, if he needs any mental (health) help, to get that help for him. That’s our first concern,” he said.
Foley praised police for the way they handled the situation. “They’re doing a great job controlling the area. It seems like they’re controlling him. They’re getting pine cones consistently thrown at them,” he said.
Matt Louie, who was running errands downtown on a day off from work, said he planned to stay and watch the man until the situation was resolved.
“I got nothing but time. It’s a nice day; he’s probably got a great view. I’m sure his perspective is a bit off the norm.”