New York Man Wanted By Police Climbs Tree and Refuses To Leave for Over 24 Hours

by Matthew Memrick

A wanted man’s hair-brained plan to evade police by climbing a tree has created a scene lasting over 24 hours.

Thoughts of biblical character Zecharias, cats in trees, and Ray Stevens’s “Misty” adaptation, come to mind. What? You don’t remember that song that goes, “Look at me. I’m as helpless as a kitten up a tree.”

The Queens resident assaulted a Jamaica, Queens woman on Wednesday at 2 p.m. Police came out to a two-story house on 145th Avenue in the Springfield Gardens neighborhood. They saw the man, but the 44-year-old man then took to the roof.

Soon after the police arrived, they learned of a warrant for the man’s arrest related to a previous incident. He reportedly punched his 50-year-old girlfriend in an incident on Sept. 30. The couple was in a car, but the man refused to surrender that day. 

Then, cops said he jumped up a 30-foot tree and has refused to come down after more than 24 hours. The man reportedly looks comfortable and has a blanket. Thursday’s high temperature in Queens was 75 degrees with a night-time low of 63.

WPIX reported that the woman was the man’s mother. The New York Daily News said he assaulted his girlfriend and threatened his mother before the tree climbing.

A neighbor told the Daily News that the man often goes up the tree on his mother’s property, where he lives.

Neighbor Sandra Dee, 58, said the police presence was overkill and that the man was not violent

“He says he don’t trust (the police) because he was abused by cops and correction officers,” Dee added. “He was in jail for two years. He said when he was in jail he was abused.”

Negotiations Continue

On Thursday, the man held a tree branch, and TV reports say he’s still in the tree. At one point, a WPIX reporter described police using a “bouncy-house” like object below the tree in case the man fell.

The man’s brother talked to TV reporters, telling them that the man was from the Caribbean. The brother also said the suspect was familiar with climbing trees. So there’s that.

At one point, the Daily News reported that officials tried to coax the man down with beer and rum as an incentive. Officials have the street blocked off from traffic during the negotiation process. 

A Nation Waits To Hear The Result

Social media is letting us down, folks. Only the TV stations are keeping up with the man’s standoff. Or tree climbing, for that matter.

NYPD hostage negotiators worked to bring the man down Thursday without much luck. Police say the man is trying to talk his way out of charges, but he’ll be arrested for the assault when he comes down. 

A radio reporter said there was some confusion over the negotiation. The man said a chaplain and psychologist talked to the man but deferred to a mental health professional who had the necessary training for the suspect.