Update at 12:52 p.m.:Police have identified the man as 44-year-old Lee Dell Thomas, Jr. A news conference is scheduled for 4 p.m. at DPD headquarters.
Update at 11:46 a.m.:The Dallas Police Department has posted an update of sorts on its Facebook page. They still have not identified the man and are conducting a followup investigation.
The man who stole a box truck downtown and climbed into a construction crane Monday for a 15-hour standoff with police plunged to his death at about 1:45 a.m.
According to reports, the man sprayed police with liquid as they climbed to reach him, got out of the cab where he had spent the better part of a day, and dangled for a moment before plunging to his death.
SMU announced an hour later that the campus was open and details will be provided later by Dallas police.
Update at 8:55 a.m.: A couple of hours after the man, who has yet to be identified, fell to his death, one of his social media avatars, @TheSMUCraneGuy tweeted posthumously:
Anything new? I blacked out for a little bit...
Still have to poop
The horrible timing seems to have been accidental, since a couple of hours later, @TheSMUCraneGuy updated us on his whereabouts:
Tweetin' from heaven.. guess my Tuesday plans aren't happening. Someone tell my boss i'm not coming in today.. or ever.. #Iquit
What wit. @SMUCraneMan too:
— Crane Man (@SMUCraneMan) May 29, 2012
Wading for a moment into the comments on the story on CBS 11's website, we find this gem from BeachGuy53:
8.4, 8.5, 8.3, ... The marks would have been better except his landing sucked.
And this one from GumBall:
Why don't we get to see this brother splattered on the ground? Now that would be worth watching
Props, however, to @SMUCRANEGUY, who had decency enough to realize that any chance of humor ended when the man was dangling 150 feet above the ground.
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— SMU CRANE GUY (@SMUCRANEGUY) May 29, 2012
The Twitter feeds -- or one of them at least -- were funny, a way to process what was a bizarre and frightening situation. But eventually one has to come to terms with the fact that the man in the crane is a human being who is deeply troubled, not a subplot on some police procedural. Not everyone did.
The voyeuristic enjoyment of another's suffering is not a product of social media, though undoubtedly there will some obligatory hand-wringing over whether the platform makes us assholes. But it can, as this case shows, become the town square where people gather to watch the hangman do his work.