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Crane Standoff Drags On

A homicide suspect remained perched on an 18-story construction crane for a third day Friday, holding police at bay and causing a spectacle in the heart of the city's entertainment district.

A plea from his sister, offers of food and a plan to have him jump onto air bags hadn't resolved the standoff.

The man, identified as Carl Edward Roland, got onto the crane around 5 p.m. Wednesday and told police he was thinking of killing himself by jumping, police spokesman Sgt. John Quigley said.

"When he's ready to come down, he'll come down — one way or the other," Quigley said. "The protocol for them is to let him make the decisions."

Roland is wanted by the Pinellas County, Fla., sheriff's department in the death of ex-girlfriend Jennifer L. Gonzalez, 36. Her body was found Tuesday in a pond behind the apartment complex where she lived.

Authorities had said Thursday that Roland had talked to negotiators but refused food and water. Quigley said he didn't know if he had accepted anything since then.

Since March, the 41-year-old Clearwater, Fla., man had quit his job as a computer software salesman, filed for bankruptcy with just $40 in the bank and talked about moving to Las Vegas, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times reported Friday. He had also talked about getting back together with Gonzalez.

The standoff was unfolding high above Atlanta's busy Buckhead neighborhood, an area filled with clubs and restaurants. Lunch and dinner crowds, taking advantage of summer-like weather, have packed restaurant patios with clear views of the standoff.

Dozens of people — from construction workers to shopkeepers to restaurant employees — watched Friday from sidewalks as police continued to try to coax Roland into coming down.

Authorities closed some streets under the crane, including Peachtree Road, one of the city's main thoroughfares. The closure led to traffic delays throughout the area.

Vernard Swindle, 29, laid off from his job stocking groceries, took a bus from his home three miles away Friday to see what was going on. He was still there two hours later.

"I'm wondering what's going on in his head to stay up there more than 36 hours with no food or water," Swindle said.

On Thursday, police called Roland's younger sister, Towana, who lives in Atlanta. She said she hadn't seen him in years and hadn't realized he was in town.

She was not allowed to go up the crane, so she borrowed a mirror and tried to get his attention by flashing sunlight and shouting "Sugarfoot, it's your baby sister!"

Also Thursday, the fire department set up large air bags on the roof of the condominium building under construction, with the thought that they could swing the arm of the crane in that direction and persuade Roland to jump, said Atlanta police Lt. F.J. Zunno. The fall to the bags would be about 90 feet.

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