SEATTLE – Despite hours of police coaxing, a man remained near the top of an 80-foot tall sequoia tree in downtown Seattle early Wednesday, refusing to come down.
Authorities were alerted to an unidentified man in the tree around 11 a.m. Tuesday and he was still clinging to its branches at 2:30 a.m. PDT Wednesday, more than 15 hours later.
He scrambled down toward the bottom just before 9 p.m. but soon made his way back up, snapping branches along the way.
Seattle police say when authorities arrived at the base of the lofty conifer next to Macy’s department store, the man refused to speak with them and threw an apple at medics.
“Issue appears to be between the man and the tree,” Seattle police tweeted.
By Tuesday afternoon, police said traffic was being tied up as officials closed nearby roads as a precaution.
“It is quite a spectacle, honestly,” police spokesman Patrick Michaud told The Seattle Times.
Michaud said police want to make sure the man can get down without hurting himself or someone else and added that rushing it could create a dangerous situation. Police have said he appears to be suffering from a crisis and has been yelling intermittently.
The incident has attracted onlookers and a local TV station has had shown the incident live all day. It’s also grown in popularity on social media with new Twitter accounts dedicated to it and the hashtag #manintree trending on Twitter and Facebook.
Negotiators with assistance from the Seattle Fire Department were on a fire truck ladder still trying to talk the man down from the tree at 6 p.m.
The man, appearing disheveled with a large beard, longer hair and a red knit hat he dropped during the day, has also ripped multiple branches from the tree and tossed them at the ground and at negotiators, who caught many of them.
Seattle Department of Transportation officials will review the health of the tree, believed to have been there since the 1970s, once the incident is resolved, police said.