Friend tries to explain why man hung from the side of Trump Tower in Chicago for more than 13 hours

By Rosemary Sobol, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Political News

CHICAGO — It's been three days since a man was lifted to safety after hanging on the side of Trump Tower for 13 hours, but one of his closest friends says he's still frightened for him.

"He's never done anything like this before. I don't know how it will end up," said Marlen, who didn't want his last name used so he wouldn't be harassed on social media. "I'm really scared."

Marlen and his friend are both from the Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan. His friend delivers newspapers for a living, is a purple belt in jujitsu and is an avid reader. "He's a very intelligent person," Marlen said. "He is a nerd guy. He likes to dig deep. He's fond of Noam Chomsky." The Chicago Tribune is not naming the man because he has not been criminally charged.

Marlen said his friend was excited after recently reading a book by Chomsky, a celebrated linguist and philosopher who's a sharp critic of American policies. He believes that's why he rappelled down the side of the downtown high-rise and threatened to cut himself loose if he didn't get his message out.

"He was just trying to let people know about the book and share his opinion," Marlen said. "Now, Noam Chomsky knows about him."

Marlen said he was home relaxing early Sunday evening when the phone rang. "Do you know who's up at Trump Tower?" the caller asked. "It's your friend."


He hung up and turned on the television, and there was his friend, hanging from the side of Trump Tower and holding a knife. Marlen said he sped downtown, parked and walked up to one of the dozens of emergency responders on the scene. "I'm his friend," he told them. "I can help you."

He was led to the 16th floor terrace where a police SWAT team, firefighters and a Russian translator were figuring out what to do about his 31-year-old friend, who was hanging from a harness about 8 feet below them and bouncing his feet against the window. Among them was Chicago Fire Chief Jamar Sullivan, head of the technical rescue operation.

"Tough dude. ... Whoever that cat was," Sullivan said.

Since the man was refusing to come back up, Sullivan figured there were at least three other options: Send firefighters down the rope to him, haul him up to the terrace or send divers after him if he plunged into the Chicago River below.


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