Three men defied police orders and climbed to the top of a cellphone tower in Wyoming, Minn., Sunday night, then parachuted off. Their base-jumping stunt landed them in jail, and more trouble may be ahead after the Department of Homeland Security reviews the case.
Police on routine patrol between 10:30 and 11 p.m. spotted the jumpers climbing the several-hundred-foot-tall tower owned by AT&T and ordered them down. The men refused officers' commands and continued to the top, then parachuted one by one to the ground, said Wyoming Police Chief Paul Hoppe.
"We don't know if they are part of an adventure club or if they picked it because it is a tall tower and easy to climb," Hoppe said. "But they seemed to be dead set on pulling this stunt off and our officers were dead set on stopping them."
Hoppe said the men somehow got past a fence topped with barbed wire and evaded a security system surrounding the tower before making their way to the top. But Aaron Stuyvenberg, 26, of St. Paul, Rollin Geiker Jr., 51, of Maple Grove, and Karl Anthony Lips-Eakins, 44, of South St. Paul, didn't escape from police or charges of trespassing, disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process. The men were charged in Chisago County District Court on Monday.
Additional charges or consequences could come from the federal Department of Homeland Security for trespassing on a public utility site, Hoppe said.
Hoppe said his officers keep an eye on the tower as part of their patrol and that it is checked multiple times each night. That vigilance led to the three men being caught, he said.
In a warning to others thinking of copying the trio's behavior and scaling the tower, which is off Hwy. 61 just north of the city's downtown, Hoppe sternly advised against it.
"Not only is this highly illegal, you will be arrested and names forwarded to the Department of Homeland Security for trespassing on a public utility site," he said.
Besides being illegal, climbing the tower is dangerous, Hoppe said.
"The tower has a lot of expensive components and if you grab in the wrong spot, it could be a deadly result," Hoppe said.