Man jumped off city hall roof, impaling himself on a flagpole

Friday, October 22, 1976, was a chilly afternoon in downtown Buffalo, with traces of frozen rain and a wind blowing faster than usual. Suddenly, though, one strong gale from the west, coupled with one man’s shocking act of self-destruction, caused the already dreary day to turn chilling and macabre.

A man committed suicide by jumping from the top of Buffalo City Hall when a freak gust of wind came along, changing his trajectory and impaling him on the flagpole above the main entrance. To those on hand to witness the suicide it was a jarring spectacle few of them would ever forget.

By 3 p.m. more than 200 people had gathered in Niagara Square, where sirens were blaring, police lights flashing and authorities were frantically barking out orders. 

A crane had been called in to assist firefighters sawing off the flagpole at its base, and medics were extracting the lifeless body of a young man dangling limply at half-mast. 

The streets were closed off and traffic was at a standstill, with motorists gazing up in horrific disbelief and City Hall workers craning their necks out of their office windows for a better view.

The victim was identified as Robert Leroy Wayne Jackson, a 19-year-old black male with no known criminal or psychiatric record.


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