Shortly before 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 26, metal chairs and tables rained down from the roof of the Ramada Inn on Sixth Avenue, narrowly missing several passing automobiles. Bent and twisted into nearly unrecognizable shapes, the patio furniture littered the asphalt and the concrete sidewalk across the street from the hotel between E and F Streets.
A few pedestrians who had scrambled for safety called 911. One citizen ran into the middle of Sixth Avenue, stopped all approaching vehicles, and barred their progress until nearly a dozen San Diego Police Department cruisers arrived, emergency lights flashing. Uniformed officers quickly cordoned off the block, followed by two K-9 patrol units and a few unmarked cars from which emerged supervisors and plainclothes detectives.
Police officers prevented the growing crowd from walking down the barricaded street. Hotel guests and the manager himself were unable to enter the hotel (formerly the St. James). They watched from behind police emergency-tape barricades as the officers attempted to end the incident, A lone figure appeared occasionally, poking his head out from the edge of the roof. Later, he was seen pacing on a ledge one story below the roof, from which a large patio umbrella, the final projectile, descended to the pavement. Two or more police officers on the roof above him appeared to be engaging the man in communication while he was trapped on the ledge.
Nearly an hour after the incident had begun, four or five burly police officers forcefully led a disheveled, tall, twentysomething white male in handcuffs, protesting all the way, from the hotel lobby toward one of the parked patrol vehicles.
According to SDPD Lieutenant Dawn Summers, "the suspect was drunk and distraught" over some unknown personal problem. She added that at one point during the incident, the man "had threatened to jump," but a police-department negotiator had persuaded him to climb the fire-escape ladder from the ledge to the roof, where he was handcuffed and taken into custody. Lt. Summers stated that because of his emotional condition, the suspect would be transported to a county Mental Health Services facility for observation.