Man spends 8 hours atop 400-foot WKMG-TV tower before climbing down

Orlando police take man to hospital for evaluation

More than eight hours after a man scaled a tower outside WKMG he came down safely.
More than eight hours after a man scaled a tower outside WKMG he came down safely.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Nearly eight hours after a 43-year-old man scaled a tower outside the WKMG-TV News 6 studios Wednesday, he descended from the 400-foot structure where Orlando police negotiators and first responders were waiting.

He was transported to a local hospital for a physical and mental evaluation, according to Orlando police.

When the man climbed the tower Wednesday morning, authorities closed access in and out of the station as Orlando police crisis negotiators attempted to talk him down.

A man who climbed News 6's 400-foot tower around 11 a.m. is back on the ground as of 7:30 p.m
A man who climbed News 6's 400-foot tower around 11 a.m. is back on the ground as of 7:30 p.m

After four hours of the man standing near the top of the tower, Orlando firefighters started to climb the structure with climbing equipment to help him down. However, once the firefighters started to ascend the tower, the man climbed higher to the top of the structure.

Around 3:45 p.m. the man started to climb down, taking frequent breaks. Around 6 p.m. after more than six hours in the tower, he began to descend again slowly.

When he took his final steps onto the ground, first responders with Orlando fire and police were waiting to escort him to a nearby ambulance.

Orlando police and fire attempt to speak with a man who climbed the WKMG TV tower on Sept. 18, 2019. (Image: WKMG)

The situation began around 11 a.m. when News 6 traffic anchor Trooper Steve Montiero witnessed the man, who was wearing gym clothing and a backpack, going into a secured area before climbing the tower.

The man made it at least 300 feet up the tower before stopping. He then climbed to the top.

Orlando police arrived at the TV station at 4466 N. John Young Parkway near Orange Blossom Trail just after 11 a.m. and tried to communicate with the man via a bullhorn in an effort to get him to descend safely.

[RELATED: Why News 6 is not livestreaming incident |  Support websites]

Early on, police said they had likely identified the man, who has a "known history of mental illness."

Negotiators were calling him a name based on information they found in a backpack he left on the ground.

Photos of the WKMG TV tower a man climbed outside News 6's studios on Sept. 18, 2019. (Image: Jeff Segers/WKMG)

Montiero said the messaging used by police negotiators was, "We're here just to help you."

"The only goal that anyone wants out of this is for this individual to come down safely," Montiero said. "When you jump fences onto private property and scale a 400-foot tower, you start to worry people."

News 6 engineers routinely scale the tower for maintenance work, but they always wear safety equipment and use a harness.

It's not known why the man climbed the tower.

“The safety of our community, our employees and this gentleman are of paramount concern to us at WKMG," said Jeff Hoffman, vice president and general manager of WKMG-TV. "We are thankful for the Orlando Police Department and Orlando Fire Department’s prompt response and hope this comes to a safe conclusion.”

News 6 did not show live video of the incident due to the unpredictability of the situation.

For perspective, the Washington Monument stands 555 feet tall.

A man climbs the WKMG TV studios tower on Sept. 18, 2019. Orlando police negotiators are attempting to talk him down from the 400-foot tower. (Image: WKMG)

About the Authors:

Daniel started with WKMG-TV in 2000 and became the digital content manager in 2009. When he's not working on, Daniel likes to head to the beach or find a sporting event nearby.