Man jumps from Houston skyscraper, dies
HOUSTON (AP) - A university student scaling the southwest corner of one of Houston's best-known skyscrapers jumped about 30 stories to his death Monday morning.
The student, identified by police as Ryan Hartley, 20, was about halfway up the 901-foot, 64-story Williams Tower when he leaped about 7:45 a.m., Houston Fire Department spokesman Jay Evans said.
Police recovered a driver's license and a note containing a message of a political nature. Authorities have declined to reveal details of the note, other than to say it did not mention plans to jump. The Harris County Medical Examiner's Office ruled his death a suicide Monday.
Hartley attended the University of Houston, having transferred from the University of Texas this fall semester, said Michael Cinelli, a spokesman for the Houston school.
Authorities said it did not appear that Hartley used any harnesses, belts or suction cups.
"He did not have any of the normal professional equipment you'd normally see on someone trying to climb a building," Evans said.
Hartley was wearing a powder bag on his waist, using it to apply rosin to his hands, and also employed some sort of handheld pick on the window molding as he moved higher.
—published in The Amarillo Globe-News, The Abilene Reporter News, The Sunday Mail (Sydney, Austrailia), click2houston.com, and others, December 17, 2002.
Williams Tower fall may not have been suicide
Protesters in the anti-war movement often express concern that bystander civilians would be a significant portion of the casualties caused by a major strike on Iraq.
Outspoken anti-war activists have taken different approaches to show their discomfort with what the U.S. military calls "collateral damage." Some, through non-violent means, while others through more risky forms of defiance.
"This Country has been fighting a war to impose their flawed sense of democracy, to many nations against their will, in such a manner the U.S. looks after the aims of their economy and inserts a powerful force against the affairs of the U.N."
That was Kevin Hartley, reading from a letter written by his brother Ryan Hartley.
This letter was found last December in Houston, after Ryan, an experienced rock climber, decided to climb the Williams tower in order to demonstrate his opposition to the war against Iraq.
When Ryan's hands were wounded by the sharp edges on the building while climbing, he lost his grip. He then fell 30 stories to his death.
Kevin Hartley has investigated his brother writings and thought patterns.
Contrary to mainstream news reports that portrayed Ryan as a suicide victim, Kevin argues Ryan's anti-war sentiments were a mixture of Christian peace-maker zeal and a mental imbalance that had affected him for years.
"You have to let your voice be heard, you also got to do that in a manner of Love, you have to show an alternative to the Hatred."
Kevin says his brother was fighting for peace and that even though he had mental problems, Ryan wanted to make a loud statement by climbing the tower.
A memorial service for Ryan was held at Second Baptist, one of the Mega Churches in Houston where his mother is an active member.
Kevin is a deacon at a contemporary church in the Montrose area called Ecclesia. Like Ryan, he feels Christians should support peace rather than war.
"The best thing that could be done out of this situation is that people will hear a message of peace that they would not have heard otherwise, I thought that if anything out of this could be good. The fact that a message of peace could be preached at Second Baptist, this place where they heard nothing more than the Republican party line "War is the answer." If a few people can hear this message and understand what it said, his death was worth my grief and my families' grief, if it helped somebody not to support the killing of people across the world."
—David Daniel Gonzalez, KPFT News, Pacifica Radio Network, Houston. Broadcast on February 21, 2003.