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Murder suspect perched on crane for third day

Atlanta business owners frustrated


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Atlanta (Georgia)
Florida

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- A murder suspect remained elusive Friday -- just 350 feet away from authorities -- high on his perch atop a crane at an Atlanta construction site.

Negotiators have been trying since Wednesday afternoon to persuade 41-year-old Carl Edward Roland to come down.

He's ignored pleas to surrender. And he's believed to be armed with a knife.

Roland is wanted by Florida authorities as a suspect in the killing of his 36-year-old ex-girlfriend Jennifer Gonzalez.

The Pinellas County, Florida, authorities said her badly beaten body was found Tuesday in a retention pond. The two had been seen together shortly before her death. A warrant for Roland's arrest was issued after he failed to return to his Clearwater, Florida, home.

On Wednesday he appeared at the Atlanta construction site and reportedly ordered a worker out of his way. He then rode up the crane's elevator before climbing out onto the horizontal arm.

He is reported to have told the worker he'd "hurt someone."

The spectacle has turned Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood into a circus, disrupting traffic and business. Home to many bars and restaurants, traffic in the area is congested with main artery Peachtree Road and side streets blocked off.

"It's amazing to me that they have not been able to go out there and get him," a female spectator said.

Business owners are concerned about the drama dragging on into the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

"It's almost like he's holding the city hostage," resident Laura Dickey said. "He's caused a lot of problems."

Virginia Morast, owner of a sandwich shop, said that her drivers can't deliver food and her business is down by about 45 percent.

"People are just driving by because they're stuck in traffic, but they can't park anywhere," she said.

Another business owner, Angela Emory, said, "He needs to go away. He needs to leave. ... Just get him down."

Radio station callers Thursday and Friday suggested solutions ranging from tranquilizer darts to ignoring him and letting him fall.

Shouting from the ground

Roland's siblings have complained that police were denying them access to him and said they could help talk him down.

"They don't want me to be the one to get him down," said Tiwana Roland, the suspect's younger sister. "They want to be the one to apprehend him. But I feel that I could get him down, if they'd just let me come stay with him and talk to him. I know I could."

Instead, she wound up shouting at him from the ground Thursday.

John Roland said if his brother had been planning to jump, he already would have. He said he believes it's time for Roland's family to come in and try to help. But for the moment, police "won't even let me on the scene," he said.

Authorities said negotiating teams have rules preventing them from allowing friends or family members to speak to someone who may be suicidal, because something said could cause the person to act.

"Percentage-wise, they're the worst ones to talk," said Howard Robertson, a former hostage negotiator and SWAT team commander, of the use of family members.

"A lot of times, someone is waiting for the family to apologize for what they're going to do" before committing suicide, he said.

Authorities opted against setting up a net or airbag beneath the crane to catch Roland, said Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington, because Roland is up too high.

But Friday morning police did move a large bucket used for carrying concrete along the crane's arm. When Roland moved, the bucket followed underneath him.

The bucket also contained a loud siren, perhaps an effort to keep the man from falling asleep.

Roland, meanwhile, appeared to be working on a cable, moving back and forth along the arm of the crane. He periodically would tie and untie himself to the crane, and appeared to destroy parts of the crane and throw them to the ground. Later on, he dismantled the bucket's siren.

Police said he has not accepted their offers of food and water.

Pennington said police negotiators will stay as long as it takes to talk Roland down.

CNN's Tony Harris and Sara Dorsey contributed to this report.


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