HOUSTON – A man scaled partway up one of Houston's best-known skyscrapers Monday, then jumped to his death as a crowd watched, police said.
The man, using a small pick, had reached about the 30th floor of the 64-story Williams Tower when he plunged, said Jay Evans, a fire department spokesman.
Police said they recovered a driver's license and a note containing a message of a political nature. Authorities declined to reveal the man's identity or details of the note, other than to say it did not mention plans to jump.
The man had rosin to apply to his hands, and used the pick on the window molding as he moved higher, authorities said. But he apparently did not have a harness, belt or suction cup, "the normal professional equipment you'd normally see on someone trying to climb a building," Evans said.
Police received the first call about the climber at 6:53 a.m. and witnesses said he jumped from the 901-foot, black glass tower at 7:45 a.m. Evans said the man had somehow reached the outside of the building from the 10th floor and then climbed up the southwest corner from there.
Rescue personnel and a crowd of onlookers had gathered below, television helicopters hovered above and motorists from the West Loop freeway, the busiest in Texas, all had a view of the black-clad man as he climbed and fell.
Police tried to talk to the man from an open window but he continued to ascend. Witness Pat McGarey, a tower worker, said the man was yelling or singing and periodically waved his hands before taking an extended pause.
"It clearly looked like he jumped as opposed to falling," McGarey said.
The art deco-inspired skyscraper, formerly known as the Transco Tower, was built in 1983. It was designed by the architect Philip Johnson.