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Man holed up in Dallas college tower crane, says he's armed

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas — Police tried Monday to coax a man from a crane cab on the Southern Methodist University campus after he told officers he was armed and threatened to shoot anyone who approached him.

The crane towers about 150 feet over the campus in University Park, a posh north Dallas enclave.

Special tactics officers from the Dallas Police Department were working with SMU campus police to manage the scene and try to talk the man down from the crane. No injuries had been reported.

Dallas police Sr. Cpl. Melinda Gutierrez said campus police "did call us about a person who had climbed up into the crane who was possibly armed with a handgun. At this time, we are not confirming that he does have a handgun."

The person on the crane had a radio, Gutierrez said, but she did not know if the person was communicating with police on the ground. She said police were attempting to establish radio contact. Gutierrez declined to say if police knew the man's identity or if they planned to use a helicopter to reach him.

The situation was first reported about 11:30 a.m. Monday.

"We were informed that an unidentified man climbed a crane at our residential commons construction site," SMU spokesman Brad Cheves said. "Fortunately, the campus is closed for the Memorial Day holiday. However, upon being informed that someone had gained access to the construction site, through our SMU police we immediately began to secure and cordon off the affected area."

No students were on campus, Cheves said, noting only "essential personnel and visitors" were on the grounds. He also added that a handful of swimmers in a pool near the crane were told to leave.

Kent Best, another SMU spokesman, said earlier that the man in the crane was a suspect fleeing from Dallas police. Gutierrez said she could not confirm that report.

Police blocked off parts of the campus and much of Mockingbird Lane on the south side of the SMU campus, as well as access to a strip mall near the crane. Observers on the ground could see signs of movement in the cab if they looked through binoculars or viewfinders of cameras.

The crane cab was fully exposed to the blazing Texas sun and temperatures were in the low 90s.

Gutierrez said electricity to the crane had been cut off, and she believed the radio in the cab was not affected.