Police arrest man after tree climb

Assault suspect's stunt delays seven trains in Seattle

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SEATTLE (AP) -- A man wanted by police after an assault climbed 40 feet up a tree next to railroad tracks and dangled precariously for three hours Friday, prompting officials to stop train traffic until he climbed down.

The 38-year-old man had earlier broken windows at his ex-girlfriend's home and injured her male roommate, police said. He was arrested for investigation of domestic violence burglary, property damage and felony assault.

The man had recently been released from prison, Seattle police said on its blotter.

As he was led away in handcuffs, a KIRO-TV reporter asked the man why he climbed the tree.

"I like to climb," he said.

Officials said they had feared the man would fall on the tracks in the Magnolia neighborhood near the Ballard railroad bridge. He climbed up and down on thin branches, swung back and forth, and at one point took off some clothes to make a little hammock he hung on for a while. He threatened to harm himself.

A Seattle Fire Department rescue team was standing by with ladders in case the man needed help, KOMO Radio reported.

A police negotiator talked with the man before he climbed down at about 8:30 a.m.

Police said they think the man went to the ex-girlfriend's house in the neighborhood at about 1:30 a.m. and assaulted the man living there. The roommate was treated at a hospital for a broken foot.

Police also said they think the tree-climbing man returned at about 5 a.m. to break windows. The ex-girlfriend had fled the house out of fear and was unharmed.

Officers were investigating the property damage when an officer was flagged down by a motorist who reported hearing a man calling for help. Police later determined he was their suspect.

Seven trains were delayed while the tracks were closed: four Sound Transit Sounder commuter trains, an Amtrak train and two freight trains, said Burlington Northern Santa Fe spokesman Gus Melonas. The tracks between Seattle and Everett have been repeatedly closed by mudslides this winter. Melonas said this was the first time in his 37-year railroad career that he has seen tracks closed by a man up a tree.