No one knows who he is, or what may have driven him to the uppermost branches of an 80-foot Sequoia tree in downtown Seattle, but the man who scaled the landmark yesterday, captivating Seattle, was met with cheers and applause as he climbed down on Wednesday.
The man had repeatedly rebuffed police negotiators who tried to convince him to come down out of the famous tree, which was planted in its current location in 1973, when it stood only 35 feet tall. Some of the streets around the tree that stands next to a Macy’s building on a corner, were blocked off for the operation.
The man, who is white with a bushy beard and wearing a red hat, was given food and placed on a gurney just minutes after climbing to safety. The Seattle Police Department said the man was not facing any charges and is undergoing mental and physical evaluations.
All of the drama was live-streamed by local television, and tracked on Twitter using #ManInTree.
Before the man descended, Seattle Police Lt. David Drain said, “We’re in a holding pattern. We want to maintain his safety,” according to The Seattle Times.
In the end, the police were able to to do just that, securing the best possible end to a spectacle that at times took scary turns when the man appeared to slip from his perch. He had created a nest of sorts from branches torn from the tree. Drain said he was not sure if the man had slept, according to the Times.
Police had tried to engage with the man by speaking to him from the windows of the seven-story Macy’s building, but the overtures visibly agitated the man who threw apples and pine cones at police yesterday.
For some city residents, the resolution took too long.
“I live in Seattle, and I own a home and I pay taxes,” said concerned citizen Phil Coolberth on KOMO TV’s live-stream. “And you’ve got at least 50-some odd officers out here for the last 24 hours … there’s a lot of overtime being spent.”
“Where’s the mayor?” he asked.
On that point at least, the man in the tree agreed. According to the Times, the man yelled from the treetop on Wednesday morning: “How much taxpayer money are you wasting? It’s not an emergency!”
KOMO’s correspondent Theron Zahn, who hosted part of the live-stream, reports that firefighters said they didn’t have the resources to set up nets below the tree in case the branches snapped and the man fell.
Passersby stopped to watch the man, who occasionally roused himself from his reclined position in the treetop to yell profanities at police.
One person who paused to look up at the man, showed up with a goat and told KOMO that if the man wanted to stay in the tree, then he should be allowed. Another man stopped by to feed the goat, named Deer, an apple.