“Despondent” Man Climbs Down From Crane in Downtown San Jose, Arrested on Trespassing Charge

A homeless man police described as "despondent" climbed to the top of an industrial crane in downtown San Jose on Sunday night in an effort to bring attention to his situation, causing about 100 construction workers to stay home from work.

After about 14 hours, the man police identified as 39-year-old Alam Skandar, a transient, changed his mind and began climbing down the structure about 10:15 a.m. What caused him to come down was not immediately clear. When he finally touched ground about 10:30 a.m., Skandar could be heard yelling as police put him in handcuffs. Sgt. Enrique Garcia said Skandar was booked on a trespassing charge.

Alam Skandar booking photo.

The saga began, Garcia said, about 8:30 p.m. Sunday, when the man climbed into the top of the crane on 7th and Santa Clara streets, near City Hall – 90 feet above the street - and was shouting, apparently about being homeless. Enrique described the man as "despondent, incoherent" and told police he had used drugs.

Throughout Monday morning, Skandar, dressed in tan shorts, a black T-shirt and red canvas sneakers could be seen from cameras down below twitching his knee, waving a yellow blanket, and at times, exiting the cab of the crane, walking about the scaffolding on the site. He also pulled out what appeared to be some type of manual and reading it inside the cab, as well.

Late Sunday night, Skandar was telling the world from atop the crane that he wasn't happy about his situation and decried homelessness in general, although his exact words were not clear.

Homeless Man Climbs Atop Crane in Downtown San Jose

The man's behavior ended up shutting down construction at a new development for a private apartment complex aimed at housing San Jose State students. The $40 million Vintage Towners project is being built by Symphony Development. City documents indicate this would be a mid-rise affordable housing building unit for residents who earn between $42,000 and $67,000 a year.

Police had made a decision early on not to force the man to come down, and hoped that he would come down peacefully, which he did.

A new "homeless census" released on Monday shows a 14 percent drop in the number of homeless in Santa Clara County. The survey also found 71 percent have nowhere to go at night. That means less than one-third are in shelters or transitional housing.

Southern Santa Clara County, including Gilroy and Morgan hill, is seeing a significant increase in its homeless population, according to the survey.

NBC Bay Area's Robert Handa contributed to this report.

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