Belligerent man on ledge of State Office Building arrested

41-year-old charged with three counts of assaulting police officer

Posted: Sunday, October 04, 2009

A belligerent 41-year-old man spouting profanity Friday afternoon while pacing precariously on an eighth floor ledge of the State Office Building was arrested and charged with three counts of assault on a police officer.

The Juneau Police Department reported multiple 911 calls around 4:26 p.m. Friday about a man, later identified as Juneau resident Warren Vitale, walking from Franklin Street to the State Office Building screaming obscenities and swinging two umbrellas. It's unclear what he was upset about.

His walk led to the office building ledge, conjuring the scene of a public suicide there in July. A 66-year-old woman jumped to her death from the eighth-floor balcony on July 9 in front of dozens of witnesses and first responders.

About 10 minutes after the first 911 call, police officers reached Vitale, who continued screaming obscenities and refused to say why he was upset. While speaking with the officers, Vitale threw the two umbrellas and a backpack at one officer, almost striking him, police reported.

During the discussion, Vitale also threw various items from the ledge of the building, including a knife, passport, hat and money.

After about 15 minutes, Vitale returned to the balcony and was handcuffed.

"He came off the railing of his own accord, and once he did, he followed our directions and we took him into custody," said police spokesman Sgt. Dave Campbell.

Dolores Mazon was one of the many people that called 911 as Vitale paced across the office building ledge screaming obscenities.

"He was just standing there yelling at first and I thought he was just playing around, and then he goes 'I'm gonna go meet the Lord. I want to go meet the Lord,'" she said.

Mazon, who witnessed the suicide in July, said it was a tense and scary situation.

"I'm going like, 'Please don't let him jump,'" she said. "Because I was watching him and I'd seen the other lady and went like, 'Oh my God, not another one.'"

After being arrested, Vitale was taken to Bartlett Regional Hospital and then to the Lemon Creek Correctional Center, where he was held on $3,000 bail.

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