After 15-Hour Standoff on SMU Crane, Man Plunges 150 Feet to His Death

Categories: Crime

Update at 12:52 p.m.:Police have identified the man as 44-year-old Lee Dell Thomas, Jr. A news conference is scheduled for 4 p.m. at DPD headquarters.

Update at 11:46 a.m.:The Dallas Police Department has posted an update of sorts on its Facebook page. They still have not identified the man and are conducting a followup investigation.


The man who stole a box truck downtown and climbed into a construction crane Monday for a 15-hour standoff with police plunged to his death at about 1:45 a.m.

According to reports, the man sprayed police with liquid as they climbed to reach him, got out of the cab where he had spent the better part of a day, and dangled for a moment before plunging to his death.

SMU announced an hour later that the campus was open and details will be provided later by Dallas police.

And suddenly, the jokey Facebook pages and Twitter feeds don't seem terribly funny.

Update at 8:55 a.m.: A couple of hours after the man, who has yet to be identified, fell to his death, one of his social media avatars, @TheSMUCraneGuy tweeted posthumously:

Anything new? I blacked out for a little bit...

Then:

Still have to poop

The horrible timing seems to have been accidental, since a couple of hours later, @TheSMUCraneGuy updated us on his whereabouts:

Tweetin' from heaven.. guess my Tuesday plans aren't happening. Someone tell my boss i'm not coming in today.. or ever.. #Iquit

What wit. @SMUCraneMan too:

Wading for a moment into the comments on the story on CBS 11's website, we find this gem from BeachGuy53:

8.4, 8.5, 8.3, ... The marks would have been better except his landing sucked.

And this one from GumBall:

Why don't we get to see this brother splattered on the ground? Now that would be worth watching

Props, however, to @SMUCRANEGUY, who had decency enough to realize that any chance of humor ended when the man was dangling 150 feet above the ground.

The Twitter feeds -- or one of them at least -- were funny, a way to process what was a bizarre and frightening situation. But eventually one has to come to terms with the fact that the man in the crane is a human being who is deeply troubled, not a subplot on some police procedural. Not everyone did.

The voyeuristic enjoyment of another's suffering is not a product of social media, though undoubtedly there will some obligatory hand-wringing over whether the platform makes us assholes. But it can, as this case shows, become the town square where people gather to watch the hangman do his work.


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Zeeba Neighba
Zeeba Neighba

It really isn't hard to imagine the reaction had this been some little blond sorority girl that had gone off her meds and freaked out. Investigations called for, outpouring of sympathies and prayers to jesus for her family, second guessing every move the cops made. When little blond girls are murdered on spring break or end up dead in portopots after drug binges, opinions and comments are never this cruel and judgmental.   Oh, but a homeless black man with a history of mental illness and, yes, a criminal record. I didn't know him, perhaps he was nothing more than a lowlife thug that rejected any and all attempts to help him. Or perhaps just another lost soul that slipped through the cracks of the system. But when we lose all sense of empathy in a rush to judgment, we lose all sense of humanity as well.   Congratulations to all the tremendous wits wetting themselves over their asinine jokes. If something like this ever affects you directly, I hope you might as least gain some perspective.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

I have no sympathy for stupidity of any kind. And we all know that one thing many little blond sorority girls have is stupidity.

Seems like you're more the jackass for trying to shoehorn it to fit your views.

RTGolden
RTGolden

It really isn't the fact that he's black or white, homeless or well-to-do, male or female.  At least not in my mind.  The fact that he was wanted for armed robbery and had just jacked a box truck, then sprayed police with a flammable liquid, then climbed out on the exterior of a crane 150ft in the air are what seals it for me.  Had it been a little blonde sorority girl, and she fit all these facts, I'd have just as little sympathy for her fate as I do for his.

Kergo 1 Spaceshiip
Kergo 1 Spaceshiip

Don't know if he's white or black, red or blonde, named Britanny or Shenequa.............don't think it's funny.  Just glad for swift justice.  Instant Karma at work. 

Ethan Kraus
Ethan Kraus

None of this would have happened if Marijuana were legal. Real talk.

Kero starship
Kero starship

Let this be a lesson to you all that nothing impedes progress.

kergo 1 spaceship
kergo 1 spaceship

justice should be served this quick all the time to violent criminals!  bye dude.

mynameischetan
mynameischetan

There is nothing funny about this story, except for the SMU rep at the end stating that 'we're relieved the situation has been resolved'. what a piece of sh1t.

Perry Moore
Perry Moore

You give nine year old children cell phones and internet access, then you want to pious up when they act like nine (or nineteen) year olds. And by the way, Baptists have been saying for some time that we are all little shits, and we hate them for it, don't we? Now go and laugh no more, blog whores.

Just kidding. Love you all, and if you quit sinning--well, you ain't trying.

Lawrence Sutherland
Lawrence Sutherland

 You've said the tweets were funny, but that's a subjective presumption.  You certainly don't speak for people such as myself.

yukity yuk yuk
yukity yuk yuk

It's always a hoot when a mentally unstable, possibly in the throes of a serious psychotic break from reality, human plummets to their death. Except in the case of it being a close family member/loved one....then the mouth breathers keep silent.

Timetomoveon
Timetomoveon

Enough with the misplaced sympathy and liberal pandering. Do we seriously need some dad lecture in this article? 

Satan
Satan

I think the twitter account was a fake. He said he was tweeting from heaven, but I'm pretty sure he was headed the wrong direction on final approach.

Britt
Britt

Come on Satan, everyone knows that there is no such thing as an afterlife!

Juan Openings
Juan Openings

Why no mention of Michael Gruber's (@tweetgrubes) live tweet of the Crane Man stand off?

Joe Tone
Joe Tone

Because mentioning every entity that live-somethinged Crane Man would break the Internet.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Well, seeing how SMUCraneMan made numerous Ticket/Cumulus jokes, I'm pretty sure Grubes was the catalyst to the creation of the account and was responsible for many people even knowing the standoff was going on, myself included.

CindyS
CindyS

Thank you for this, Eric. I'm just sorry to see so many commenters here proving your point.

Jola55555
Jola55555

He was a criminal (and probably mentally ill), but didn't deserve the death penalty.  Why did the police force his hand?  A few hours more and he possibly would have come down on his own and then spent lots of time in jail.Those who think this is funny are tasteless morons.

Timetomoveon
Timetomoveon

The police forced his hand? Are you retarded? 

I highly doubt the cops went up there and pointed their weapons at him and said "JUMP MOTHERFUCKER!"

Kergo 1 spaceship
Kergo 1 spaceship

society ( as a whole) is a better place now...can you deny that?

RTGolden
RTGolden

He told everyone he had a gun.  What would you have them do?  leave him up there to possibly open fire during morning traffic?  Had that been the outcome, you would be on here questioning why the police didn't act sooner to prevent such a tragedy.

I'm with the cops on this one.  Nobody forced his hand (or hands).  He was up there spraying some sort of lubricating liquid all over the place.  Most likely got some on his hands.  Once out on the frame, he quickly discovered that lubricants...... lubricate.  The only person who passed a death sentence on this man was this man himself.

Diane Treider
Diane Treider

You've got it right.  This guy carjacked someone and was wanted for armed robbery.  I was worried all along he might start taking pot shots at people on the ground to keep the police at bay.  Thank God it was a holiday and school was already out.  They couldn't leave him up there forever.  

I do wonder, however, if the FD couldn't have put something to catch him below.  I called this early - I said he'd fall - I thought it would be deliberately.  The DPD's account on their FB page left room that he screwed himself with the WD-40 and couldn't hang on.  And just that the hell did he think was going to happen up there?  He had no way out, no where to go except DOWN.  I also am thankful he couldn't actually operate the crane or more havoc could have ensued.  

As for the cynical tweets, meh, give credit to the guy himself for saying it wasn't funny anymore.  And I, too, vote Darwin.  

Timetomoveon
Timetomoveon

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...You'd hit the ground at approx 70mph from that height.

What do you think they could put to catch someone falling that fast? And where? If there was no wind he might fall straight down...  

Stunt men have jumped onto airbags from higher but they land on their back and the bags are 20+ feet high and weigh a ton. I highly doubt the DPD has any lying around in the station just waiting for car jacking maniacs to climb on cranes.

RTGolden
RTGolden

From 150 feet, you're going to be falling at an extremely high speed when you hit.  It doesn't really matter what you hit at that point.  Hitting water from that height would be like slamming into concrete.  With air bags, he might possibly survive, but he still would have been severely injured.  I'm pretty sure the Looney Tunes method of holding the four corners of a nice blanket was not a serious option.  No, I think the fool was heading for a grave the second he started climbing that crane.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Maybe God should have stepped in a little bit earlier in this whole string of events...

Other than me really wanting to be a smartass there, completely agree with you.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano

They think they have to "do something" and if you are SWAT, that something needs to be studly. He would have either come down or passed out. Robbing with a nail? More likely mentally ill or drunk. Note that SMU commented on the value of human life in the most general terms, and avoided mentioning the crane guy's life in particular. Very cold

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

On a side note, if they had reached him and were able to arrest him, how do they bring him down? If the guy was suicidal(just guessing), it could have gotten much worse. 

mark zero (Jason)
mark zero (Jason)

undoubtedly there will some obligatory hand-wringing over whether the platform makes us assholes.

I think this explains the process rather well, if simply.

Musers
Musers

Social media doesn't make people assholes. They're already assholes, social media just provides a bigger audience.

Steve
Steve

Ya got ta ro-o-oll with the punches to get to what's real!

Mickister
Mickister

 At least you didn't say "The Daddy Mac will make you..."

Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton

*ha*

I see what you did there. Had to let it roll around for a bit, though.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

This jackass took his own stupid life into his own hands when he went up that crane.  Sure, it would've been a better alternative if he would've been a big boy and came down on his own, but the idiot jumped so theres not much we can do about it..I'm more concerned about the local media not showing his final swan dive, as a reminder to everyone else that gravity is still in effect, not to mentioned the wasted manpower of the DPD..

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

I'm a Christian, I don't believe in gravity.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

It is only a theory.

Admonkey
Admonkey

Actually, it's both a Theory and a Law, but that would only confuse the confuse-able.

Info
Info

Amen!Teach the controversy!Anything less is trampling on our religious freedom!

Jake W
Jake W

how long before we see a follow up from Jim S about how the DPD made him fall because hes black and if it were a white guy they would have saved him

Justin Julian
Justin Julian

Oh, and don't forget, it somehow factors in that Rick Perry is stupid.

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