on May 29, 2014 - 10:42 AM
, updated May 29, 2014 at 12:44 PM
The apparent suicide by a man in his mid-20s cast a pall Thursday at City Hall.
The man’s fall from the 28th-floor observation deck onto a roof more than 20 floors below shocked and saddened city employees.
The man, who has not been identified, is not believed to be a city employee.
He apparently scaled the Plexiglas that surrounds the observation deck on the western side, facing South Elmwood Avenue. At about 10 a.m. he fell to his death and landed on the fifth-floor deck, police said.
Police do not suspect foul play, city spokesman Michael J. DeGeorge said.
The man dressed casually, wearing what appeared to be jeans, sneakers and a tank top, witnesses said.
“I was pretty freaked out,” said Patrick Curry, who saw the body from the 12th floor. “Everyone is in disbelief. It’s pretty sad.”
Some employees left work early, their colleagues said.
Many employees on the western side of the building could see the fifth-floor deck where the man landed and described seeing him before authorities covered the body with a green tarp.
Some employees could hear the impact of his landing on the deck.
“Felt a huge thud,” said Ian Kamery, an intern in a Common Council office on the 14th floor. “Felt like a bomb went off in Niagara Square.”
The floor shook, Kamery said.
Michael Kuzma, who also works on the 14th floor, thought the thud came from above.
“I thought someone was moving something,” he said.
Others wondered if it was construction-related.
“We thought something had fallen,” said Michael Mazgajewski, who works on the 15th floor. There was construction on a nearby roof and he first thought the noise was related to the repair work.
“We were hoping it wasn’t one of the workers,” said Katie Battel, a Council intern.
Homicide detectives from the Police Department and fire crews responded to the scene.
Police guarded the entrance to City Hall following the incident, and streets on the west side of the building were closed, but the building and streets reopened about two hours after the incident.
Investigators said the victim apparently scaled a wall of the observation deck, on the 28th floor, which is enclosed by Plexiglas about 10 feet high. The area is monitored by security cameras, though it is not attended by a guard.
City Hall is 385 feet tall, one of the tallest buildings in the city. Its architecture, commanding location on the west side of Niagara Square, and 28th-floor observation deck with panoramic views make it a frequent destination for school groups and tourists.
About 40 second-grade students from Forest Elementary School were touring City Hall at the time of the incident on Thursday morning.
“They were unaware of what happened,” said Rita Wolff, a spokeswoman for the Williamsville Central School District. “They were escorted out of the building just after it occurred,” she said.
News Staff Reporter Barbara O’Brien contributed to this report.