August 17, 2011 / 11:09 PM / 8 years ago

Tulsa breathes sigh of relief after "Tower Guy" ordeal

OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - There’s nothing like a peaceful ending to an unprecedented six-day police standoff with a man perched on a radio transmission tower to put a spring in your step.

That was the scene in Tulsa on Wednesday, when citizens of Oklahoma’s second-largest city could return to business as usual a day after a 25-year-old man who became known as “Tower Guy” finally agreed to descend his post after some 127 hours.

“It really is a very satisfying feeling,” Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett said from his office at City Hall.

When William Sturdivant first climbed up the tower on Thursday morning and refused to come down, the mayor figured it was short lived.

“This will last about a day or so and then it’ll be done with,” he said to himself.

Some local media at first agreed, declining to cover it initially. But as the hours turned into days, and curious onlookers gathered to watch, local media went into overdrive coverage and the mayor’s mood darkened.

Someone created a “TowerGuy” page on Facebook that quickly drew thousands of adherents. It started off as light-hearted, but as time wore on, it grew more serious, said the page’s creators, who asked to remain anonymous.

“I think a lot of people felt personally connected, and there are a lot of passionate opinions out there,” the administrators said in an e-mail.

“But I think it became an amazing social experiment that proved that people need to put an answer to a situation in order to continue with their lives.”

Sturdivant’s motives for climbing the tower remained unclear on Wednesday, at least in public reports.

“We wish William the best and hope that his family is able to get him the help he so richly needs: physically and spiritually,” the Facebook page’s administrators said.

The situation also hit twitter. “If the mayoral election was held tomorrow,” one user tweeted, “towerguy just might win.”

Viewers nervously watched live feeds on TV and online. People started floating T-shirt designs. America watched and waited as Sturdivant refused most offers of food and water.

“It’s not going to be a good end,” Bartlett admits thinking. “He’s going to get very weak and have some kind of very serious problem and fall down. It definitely would have killed him.”

And then, suddenly, it was over.

If anyone was looking for a hero, most fingers seemed to point at Tyrone Lynn, a retired Tulsa police officer who took over direct negotiations with the man during the last seven hours of his ordeal.

Sturdivant gave up his tower perch at 6:40 p.m. on Tuesday and climbed into a waiting cherry picker with Lynn inside.

“It was a great opportunity just to help the young man,” Lynn said. “I’m just glad to help.”

Edited by Karen Brooks and Cynthia Johnston

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