ATLANTA -- A man who climbed a 200-foot construction crane and held police at bay for an entire day hanged himself early Friday after authorities and psychologists tried for hours to talk him down.
Michael D. Kelley, 23, edged his way to the side of the crane with a noose around his neck around 3 a.m. and hung by both arms for several seconds before falling, Deputy Police Chief C.B. Jackson said.
He "apparently had second thoughts" and was struggling to climb back up when he fell 20 feet, Jackson said.
Police said Kelley found the rope at the top of the crane. He was left dangling for almost 30 minutes before police could lift him back onto the platform.
"We thought he was coming down, and then all of a sudden he fell," said witness Tyrone Grusz.
Another witness, Johnny Wilson, said he heard Kelley shout, "Tell my mother I love her."
Kelley's mother said he had been living in the woods behind her Atlanta townhouse.
His criminal record included charges of minor offenses including simple battery, drunken driving and shoplifting.
Kelley, who wore a suit, apparently scaled a fence and climbed the crane's long ladder early Thursday, said Steen Miles, a spokeswoman for Atlanta's transit system. A crane operator said he found the man around 6 a.m., when he climbed up to begin work.
The distraught man demanded the worker's cellular phone and said he was an FBI agent watching the Gold Club, a nearby strip club at the center of a federal racketeering trial. FBI agent Richard Kolko, who was at the scene, said there was no indication Kelley had ever been a bureau employee.
Kelley spent the day reading a Bible, scribbling and, at one point, dropping a blank check as psychologists tried via cell phone to talk him into coming down. He asked for another cell phone after the batteries ran out.
He dropped notes throughout the night, Jackson said. The notes were smeared with blood, leading police to believe he had hurt his hand.
A final message, dropped shortly before the hanging, referred to bodily fluids. Jackson called the notes "completely irrational."
Police said Kelley had made no demands and was not believed to be a danger to others as he waited out police in the crane's cockpit. Throughout the night, a police helicopter passed by Kelley and flashed a spotlight on him. The spotlight was not on him when he climbed to the edge.
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