Man charged after 21-hour standoff atop old blast furnace

BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) — A man who climbed atop the rusting blast furnace at a former eastern Pennsylvania steel mill, prompting evacuation of an arts and entertainment venue now at the site, is now facing a felony charge of risking a catastrophe.

Jonathan David Wallace, 25, of Mertztown was also charged Sunday with reckless endangering and defiant trespass following the more-than-21-hour ordeal at the old Bethlehem Steel Corp. site that ended Saturday.

An outdoor concert scheduled at the SteelStacks campus was canceled and about 1,500 people evacuated after the man climbed up shortly before 7 p.m. Friday, balancing precariously on a single steel beam hundreds of feet above the venue. Events scheduled later were postponed or canceled.

Officers climbed to a platform below and talked to the man for hours, and he was taken into custody at about 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

District Attorney John Morganelli and Bethlehem Police Chief Mark DiLuzio said the man appeared to be contemplating taking his own life during the standoff. He was taken for a mental health evaluation, and officials said he could be eligible for mental health court depending on the outcome of such evaluations.

Court documents don't list an attorney for Wallace; a message left at a number listed for him wasn't immediately returned Sunday.