Watch: NYPD rescues fugitive threatening to jump from 31st floor of Manhattan high-rise

An Emergency Service Unit officer is lowered by rope from the floor above during an FBI raid

By Emma Seiwell, Thomas Tracy, Kerry Burke and Larry McShane
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — A tense eight-hour standoff with a fugitive threatening to jump from a 31st-floor Midtown apartment window after an FBI raid gone wrong ended dramatically Wednesday with a daredevil arrest.

An NYPD Emergency Service Unit officer scaled his way down from the floor above to slip into the residence through a shattered glass window and conclude the bizarre faceoff with suspect Ian Mitchell as a crowd watched the high-rise drama from the street below.

The suspect had a white towel draped over his head and his hands behind his back as he was led from the luxury skyscraper, taken to a waiting ambulance about 4:40 p.m. and driven to Bellevue Hospital by the FBI for a psychiatric evaluation.

A local business employee said federal agents had been staking out the building for about a week before the arrest.

“They had been watching for a while,” he said. “They had different cars every day. ... I couldn’t get a parking spot. So when I knocked on the car that was parked there, the lady takes out her badge.”

The suspect was seen around the building for the past two years and looked like he had fallen on hard times, said the employee.

“I used to see him very dressed up, very clean,” he recounted. “But recently I saw him just walking out in normal clothes.”

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Manhattan Supreme Court documents showed a pair of open grand larceny cases and a bench warrant for the arrest of Mitchell. In one case, he was accused of a scheme to defraud his unidentified victims of property worth more than $50,000 between October 2017 and May 2018.

The second case involved the theft of property also worth more than $50,000 only months later, beginning in October 2018 before coming to an end within a month. Mitchell was indicted in both cases, with a warrant for his arrest issued Jan. 31, 2020.

Mayor Adams arrived on the scene earlier in the afternoon, walking around crime scene tape to meet with law enforcement during the extended incident where the would-be jumper used furniture to barricade himself inside, a police source said.

“The NYPD is patient,” Adams told reporters while walking back to his car. “Our hostage negotiators are the best in the business and we’re going to do everything possible to bring this to a conclusion.”

A hostage negotiating team and city Emergency Service Unit members engaged in fruitless conversations for hours with Mitchell, who dangled his feet from the window every time he heard a noise, the source added.

Federal investigators executed the search warrant for financial fraud in a condominium in the 70-story CitySpire building on W. 56th St. near Seventh Ave. about 8:30 a.m., according to the source.

But once they stepped inside, the 35-year-old accused white-collar criminal shattered the glass, sat on the window ledge with his legs hanging near the shards and threatened to jump.

“Of course I’m shocked,” said a neighbor. “I didn’t know I lived next door to a criminal. He was always alone. ... Usually we don’t talk. I just see him coming and going.”

The apartment is believed to belong to a female relative or girlfriend of Mitchell’s who fled the residence and remained in the hallway outside with police, police sources said. Pieces of glass continued to fall into the closed-off street hours after the standoff began.

Mitchell, wearing black socks, black pants and a black shirt, was half-hanging out the broken window when cops arrived. Hours later, a helicopter circled the neighborhood as police placed a large airbag on the street below.

He eventually reentered the apartment in the afternoon, but refused to open the door.

A man visiting his sister, who lives on the 40th floor, said he left to grab a coffee and croissant at a nearby bakery and returned to find the building in lockdown. People inside were told to stay in their homes while people arriving at the high-rise were not allowed to enter.

“To me, it’s the stupidest thing you can do,” said the visitor. “If it’s true what they say, he’s a con man. He shouldn’t have done the crime. If you do the crime, do the time.”

The FBI called the NYPD, and Emergency Service Unit officers were dispatched to persuade Mitchell to surrender, police said, with an ESU team initiating a dialogue with the resident.

“I think if he’s lasted so long, hopefully he won’t jump,” said the man visiting his sister.

Many in the crowd, necks craned skyward, used their cell phones to shoot video of the man during the hours-long incident.

The Emergency Service Unit came up for high praise for “protecting life” across the city during a Wednesday evening press conference at NYPD headquarters.

“One foot out the 31st floor of a high rise in New York City and members of the elite Emergency Service Unit responded there and they showed patience, care, commitment,” said NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey. “They didn’t know what that man was thinking, but ESU made a decision that nothing was going to happen to that man today and they kept their word.”

©2023 New York Daily News.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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