Robbery suspect falls to his death after standoff

SMU Scene photo from Ed Lavendau - CNN

(CNN) — A nearly 15-hour standoff ended early Tuesday morning when a robbery suspect who climbed atop a construction crane on the campus of Southern Methodist University fell 150 feet to his death, a school official said.

The suspect fell after Dallas police sent four officers up the crane to try and remove him, according to Patti LaSalle, a SMU associate vice president of public affairs.

The man was seen hanging from the side of the crane’s cab about 1:45 a.m. (2:45 a.m. ET ) when he fell, CNN affiliate WFAA TV reported.

About an hour later, SMU issued an alert.

“The SMU campus is open, and all buildings will be open during normal business hours today,” the alert said. “Details will be available later today from Dallas Police regarding a man who occupied a construction crane on the SMU campus.”

The unidentified man, believed to be a suspect in a recent robbery, was spotted in the cab of the crane around 11:30 a.m. Monday, apparently trying to avoid arrest, local affiliates reported.

At an afternoon press conference, Dallas police said the man was in contact with officers and claimed to have a weapon when campus police approached him.

No weapon was visible from helicopter aerials, and the crane itself had not moved, WFAA reported.

Shortly after occupying the crane, the man was seen throwing an unidentified object from the crane’s control cab, WFAA said.

No classes were in session Monday because of the Memorial Day holiday. Only “SMU essential personnel and a limited number of student employees, students and visitors were on campus,” the university said.

SMU is about five miles north of downtown Dallas.

The crane was being used to build a future housing area near the football stadium, according to affiliate KTVT. The crane is also next to the George W. Bush Presidential Library, which is in the midst of construction.

Video from KTVT showed the silhouette of a man holed up in the cab of the crane, refusing to come down.

Local affiliates at the scene said the man was getting sick inside the crane, possible due to the heat while in the non-air-conditioned crane cab. Members of the media saw the man taking off his shirt and shoes, breaking out a window and tossing them out.

Sometime Monday, a Twitter page parodying the unidentified man was created. By late Monday, the account had more than 1,200 followers.

CNN’s Nick Valencia and Ed Lavandera contributed to this report

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