A man holed up in a tree along Interstate 890 and threatening himself with a pair of knives was finally pulled out early this morning, authorities said.
The 29-year-old man, whose identity has not been released, got within reach of rescue workers as he tried to accept an offered blanket. He was pulled into a fire department bucket just before 4 a.m., police said.
He was unarmed at that point, after a previous attempt by officers to grab him ended up with his jacket and both knives, police spokesman Lt. Brian Kilcullen said.
After shedding the jacket, he also shed his shirt, leaving him open to the chilly overnight air.
“As he reached for the blanket, officers in the bucket were able to reach behind him and grab pants,” Kilcullen said. They pulled him in safely.
Police said the man never threatened anyone but himself. He also had a warrant out for his arrest for failure to pay a fine on a marijuana conviction.
But police do not believe the warrant was the sole reason why he responded the way he did, Kilcullen said.
“Obviously, he had some issues that brought him to the top of the tree,” Kilcullen said.
He was taken unhurt to Ellis Hospital for evaluation.
The man had been up the tree for more than eight hours, effortlessly moving about the tree, occasionally poking his head from the branches.
He shinnied up just after 5 p.m. Tuesday after officers responded to reports from motorists. Once in the tree, the man displayed a pair of butcher knives and threatened to harm himself, police said.
They had noticed a man urinating on the side of the road and dodging in and out of traffic. The man darted toward the woods when an officer arrived.
Police and firefighters attempted to negotiate with the man from the ground, but eventually resorted to raising a bucket from a city ladder truck into the treetops.
Kilcullen credited the ordeal’s end to officers who worked to gain the man’s trust and keep him calm. Officers Marlon Ivery and Dwayne Johnson “really developed a rapport with him.”
At one point in the evening, the man asked for a turkey sandwich, something officers gave him.
Ivery was one of the three rescue workers who ultimately grabbed the man. The other two were a city firefighter and an FBI agent. The agent happened to be in the area when the ordeal began, Kilcullen said. Their identities were not immediately available.
The incident shut down one lane of westbound Interstate 890 as officials waited the man out. The shutdown would have been more extensive had the man had firearms, Kilcullen said.
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