Unlocked Doors Allowed Woman to Jump from Top of Building

As hundreds of people watched from the street below, a woman with a history of psychiatric problems jumped to her death Friday afternoon from the top of the six-story Oakland Tribune office building, police said.

According to witnesses, Mary Jesus, 33, jumped about 120 feet to her death while police officers stood nearby, trying to talk her off the ledge that lines the building's roof.

The suicide came at the end of a 15-minute drama that began when passersby at the busy intersection of 13th and Franklin streets noticed her sitting on the roof ledge, feet dangling over the side of the building.

"A crowd had gathered on the sidewalk outside and there were people yelling out, 'Don't do it,'" said Mario Dianda, editor of the Tribune. "It was at that point that several of our reporters and editors looked out the window and figured someone was on the ledge."

At least one Tribune reporter went to the roof to try to talk to Jesus. Witnesses said the woman jumped from the ledge about 2 p.m., shortly after throwing sheets of paper to the street below. The papers were copies of a suicide note in which she made reference to a court case involving landlords attempting to evict her from a downtown apartment.

"Goodbye cruel world and all that," the letter begins. "Just look up the case ... and you'll see why."

Officers negotiated with her for about 10 minutes before she seemed to get upset and started throwing the papers, said Oakland police Officer Danielle Ashford.

In her rooftop discussion with the reporter, Jesus referred to attempts to have the newspaper publicize her eviction plight. Tribune employees said she wrote several letters to the editor, but none was published.

Workers said she entered the adjacent Tribune tower building, signing in with a security guard stationed in the lobby. She took an elevator to the seventh floor, which has an unlocked door that opens onto the roof.

About 200 people, including 30 officers and 15 firefighters, witnessed the incident, Ashford said.

Jesus, a longtime Oakland resident, was known to police as having a history of mental illness. She had previously received intervention from social services agencies, Ashford said.

Court papers say the woman's landlords wanted to evict her from her apartment because she was $1,018.77 behind in rent.