Death at the Courthouse

About an hour ago, I was leaving the Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana when a Sheriff's deputy blocked me from passing through the building's east entrance. Although the crowd of officers that seemed to appear all of the sudden were mum about what was going on, a bystander said that a man had jumped from the roof and was dead. I walked outside the entrance to Civic Center Drive and around back to get a look at what was going on.

Outside the front entrance, people were already talking about what had happened, but details were sketchy. Two guys smoking cigarettes said they heard there was a man threatening to jump. They said they thought there was a standoff going on on the other side of the building.

I noticed the adjacent four story parking garage at the courthouse wasn't blocked by police tape, so I ascended to the top floor to see if I could get a bird's eye view. I made sure to stay clear of the areas that were in throwing distance of the 10 story courthouse building, just in case the guy hadn't jumped yet and might want to use me as a cushion.

All I could see were a bunch of cop cars, fire trucks and paramedic wagons, so I descended back to ground level on the side where all the police were patrolling a yellow tape perimeter. I spoke momentarily with a female officer who said I would have to wait for a public information officer to learn more. She wouldn't give details, but I pressed her to find out if the person in question was dead by saying "is this still a dangerous situation, or is the danger over?"

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"No, there is no danger, but I can't comment," she said.

I wanted to find at least one witness to confirm what was going so I walked to the other side of the police perimeter where a couple small crowds were formed. That's when I saw the amorphous lump underneath a yellow sheet of some sort. The lack of urgency of rescuers told me that this man was very dead.

I stood near a group of women, some of them courthouse employees. One of them said the guy must have fallen from the ninth floor because there were a bunch of deputies up there immediately following.

Then I talked to a gentleman named Mel Rodriguez who was relaxing in the sun on a grassy area near the library. He said he heard the guy yell "as if he didn't want to fall." He described it as a "remorseful moan" as if hurling toward his death was not his ideal circumstance.

No word on whether this was a suicide, an accident or something else. I left before the news vans arrived, but surely there will be more information tomorrow and possibly later on.

The AP already has this:

"Police say a man jumped from the ninth floor of the Orange County Superior Court in downtown Santa Ana in an apparent suicide.

Police say the man jumped after a brief struggle with a Sheriff's Department employee who saw him on a restricted balcony and tried to stop him.

Santa Ana police Cpl. Jose Gonzalez says the man did not have any business in court. It wasn't immediately clear if the man worked at the courthouse, which remained open for business.

Update: The Register says the man was 52 years old.


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