A man wearing dark clothing and carrying a drone climbed up a 153-foot water tower in Santa Ana and apparently opened a valve in the million-gallon tank, prompting a nearly three-hour standoff with police Tuesday afternoon.
Firefighters and police were called to the tower, at 1400 Penn Way, about noon, according to Sgt. Anthony Bertagna with the Santa Ana Police Department.
The man was seen tying something to a railing and then climbing up to a height about 40 feet, where he appeared to try to open a large valve to let water out of the tank, the sergeant said.
“The subject was not responsive to officers and appeared agitated and irrational,” Bertagna said.
About 2 p.m., aerial video from Sky5 showed the man at the very top of the tower, which had water leaking from it. He was alternately lying on his side next to a backpack and seeming to adjust a white drone he was holding.
He appeared to smash his drone onto the water tower.
Just before 2:45 p.m., the man began to descend a ladder and walked along a catwalk, and then continued to climb down the tower. He was taken into custody by waiting police officers and then placed on a gurney. He was eventually wheeled to a waiting ambulance.
Police said on Twitter that he was taken to a hospital for evaluation and booked and would be placed on a 72-hour hold.
Police didn’t know what the man’s motive was.
Bertagna initially said the man was wearing all black, but Sky5 video showed him apparently wearing a brown T-shirt and black pants.
A landmark visible from the 5 Freeway, the tower was built in 1928 and stands 153 feet tall, according to the Orange County Register. The tank, which reads “Downtown Orange County," holds a million gallons and supplies about 800,000 gallons of water to the area, the Register reported.
Nearby Davis Elementary School was placed on "lockout" due to the police activity.
KTLA's Jennifer Thang contributed to this article.