Atlanta police continue to play a waiting game with a Florida murder suspect perched 350 feet above an intersection in the Buckhead section of Atlanta. At a press conference today, Police Chief Richard Pennington said negotiators have made it clear that police will allow 41-year-old Carl Edward Roland to turn himself in.
"We have assured him of that," said Pennington of the Clearwater resident suspected in the slaying of his former girlfriend, 36-year-old Jennifer Gonzalez. The woman's badly beaten body was discovered Tuesday afternoon in a retention pond near her Oldsmar home.
Roads remained closed in both directions of the crane's location. "We're not in any rush, and he's not a threat to anybody other than to himself," said Atlanta police Sgt. John Quigley. Pennington said Roland confronted a construction worker Wednesday at about 4:30 p.m., saying he had "already broken the law and hurt someone" and instructed the man to "get out of the way."
Roland then took the crane elevator to the 25-story-high platform rising adjacent to the rising skeleton of condominiums. Police negotiators climbed the crane and tried throughout the cool, 50-degree night to talk Roland down. "He's been wavering back and forth between taking a plunge and possibly coming down in a safe manner," Quigley said.
Quigley said the man, who is not believed to be armed, had not made any demands. He said police are "hoping that he gets to a point where he gets hungry, thirsty or uncomfortable or something that makes him come down under his own power." Other than a police jacket, Roland has not accepted offers of aid, including food and water, Pennington said.
"He's very tired and hungry and I'm sure he needs water as well," Pennington said. "When he falls asleep we sound sirens [to wake him], we don't want him to fall. .... He's probably walking [around on the platform] to stay awake, but the sun is working on him as well."
Police have located Roland's silver Toyota 4Runner outside a nearby Barnes & Noble book store. Pennington said police are trying to locate relatives, including at least one in the Atlanta area. He would not name the relatives or say where they lived. The crane is being used in the Trammell Crow Company's construction of the 19-story Ovation condominium. Trammell Crow construction supervisor Joe Ackerman said the crane Roland is on is about 25 stories high. "I have to think he'll come down. It seems illogical for him to sit out there all night in the cold without sleep and then jump,' Ackerman said. "But that's if you're thinking logically, and we have no way of knowing how logical he is."
"It's amazing,' said Ackerman. "He somehow snuck on our crane, apparently while the crane operators were changing shifts. It appears somebody wasn't paying attention."
Roland stood up around 8 a.m. and walked around on the horizontal perch as Michael Anderson, a plumbing worker from Smyrna, Ga., watched.
"He's moving around too much, kind of bobbing and weaving. It looks to me like he's getting impatient. You don't know what's on his mind," Anderson said. Within moments, Roland sat down again.
"Look at him sitting with his legs dangling; he must be a climber or maybe somebody who is really comfortable with heights,' said Pat Redmond, a librarian at a nearby public library.