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Tower Guy: A year after the 127-hour sky-high standoff
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Tower Guy: A year after the 127-hour sky-high standoff

Tower Guy: A year after the 127-hour sky-high standoff
Photo Credit: Russell Mills
Taken with infrared on Aug. 15, 2011 about 11 p.m.

Tower Guy: A year after the 127-hour sky-high standoff

One year ago today, a standoff that captured international attention finally ended when William Sturdivant II, who became known as "Tower Guy," finally stepped into the bucket of a Tulsa Fire Department ladder truck and returned to earth after more than five days.

The 127-hour ordeal began routinely enough, with a call about a trespasser at the Clear Channel Communications building, 2625 S. Memorial Dr.

Police had received a similar call the previous day, but the alleged intruder eluded them.

This time, employees  spotted a man, who made his way to the roof of the building before going into a fenced-off area surrounding a radio tower and as they moved in, he climbed up and the standoff began.

The 25-year-old suspect then embarked on a test of endurance and willpower that had people literally around the world watching and waiting for days as he refused food, water and even negotiation with family members.

It became the longest standoff in Tulsa police history as Sturdivant withstood even the blazing sun that literally blistered him as he gradually lost his shirt, shoes and socks.

People gathered in the parking lot at the base of the tower, some out of curiousity, some who seemed to root him on in his stand against authority, others who actually voiced their hopes that they would see him fall.

KRMG manned the situation almost around the clock with reporters spending the night in the parking lot drinking bottled water and chatting with police officers and other media as the bizarre standoff stretched into days.

Speaking with friends and family members, it became clear that Sturdivant had run into a very troubled period in his life.

The mother of his young son had taken the child and moved away to Dallas while Sturdivant was imprisoned on burglary and drug charges.

His mother had recently received a diagnosis of cancer.

He'd apparently had little luck finding employment since his April release from prison.

But Sturdivant perched on the tower for days without making demands without explaining why he refused to come down, without saying much of anything.

When he did speak, much of what he said was disjointed, at times incoherent.

At one point, he told police "it just takes time. Eventually, I'll probably come down, I'll probably fly down, the way y'all want me to. But right now, I'm still in control. If I stay in control, I'm never coming down. So, if I take another month or so, or another week or so..." His voice trails off. Then, "I'll stay up here a month if I have to."

"You guys have all the toys and s***, he continued. "But at least I'm not gonna injure myself, so y'all could have me fooled, you know?" then "why would I injure myself when I have thousands of people to help me?"

Generally, Sturdivant remained silent during the majority of the ordeal.

It was Tyrone Lynn, a retired police negotiator, who finally coaxed Sturdivant into the fire truck's cherry picker after seven and a half hours spent talking with the troubled man.

Since that day, Sturdivant has refused attempts to talk about the ordeal.

He will remain in Tulsa's memory for some time as "Tower Guy, but exactly what drove him to climb that tower and stay perched there for days remains a mystery.

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