Seattle's 'Man in Tree' transfixes Internet worldwide, but who is he?

A man sits in an 80-foot tall tree in downtown Seattle, Tuesday, March 22, 2016, after he climbed nearly to the top, disrupting traffic. Police say when authorities arrived, the man refused to speak with them and threw an apple at medics. (Grant Hindsley/seattlepi.com via AP)

SEATTLE - Amid chants of "Man In Tree," the 25-hour saga that transfixed Seattle and the Internet ended Wednesday as the eponymous man climbed down from his perch in an 80-foot-tall sequoia overlooking a busy Seattle shopping district. But the mystery remains - who was the man?

Police finally released his name - Cody Lee Miller - on Thursday morning, about a day after his arrest. But little else was known about him - except that he was evaluated at Harborview Medical Center, then booked into jail for investigation of malicious mischief. He will make a Thursday afternoon court appearance.

"We are now working with him trying to get a clearer picture of what exactly led to this point," said Detective Patrick Michaud. "We'll be able to work with him as he is in the hospital try to get this whole thing figured out."

Officials have not said if the man is a member of the city's ballooning homeless population. But documents obtained by KOMO News show he has an Oregon arrest record for criminal mischief and disorderly conduct, and that he may be the same man involved in an incident Saturday outside a Starbucks store on East Pike Street in Seattle.

In that incident, the man was taken into custody after refusing to move from the sidewalk in front of the store, shouting about his constitutional rights and falsely identifying himself as Edward Cullen, the vampire from the "Twilight" series, the police report said.

Three days later, he became known around the world as the "man in the tree" via the Internet and social media.

After the man climbed down from the tree Wednesday, the Seattle Police Department tweeted a photo of the tree-like creature named Groot from the "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie with the caption, "Groot job, everybody!"

The tweet was just part of the online commotion the incident sparked, with new Twitter accounts dedicated to it and the hashtag #ManInTree trending on Twitter and Facebook. KOMO-TV live-streamed video of the man as he dozed, shouted and knocked around a stick.

At times, the man appeared agitated, gestured wildly, yelled and threw apples, branches and green pine cones at officers. Police tried to speak with him from a firetruck ladder and the sixth-floor windows of the Macy's department store next door.

Police reports obtained Thursday by KOMO News show one officer was injured when struck by a "rock hard" green pine cone thrown by the man. Some cars were also damaged and pedestrians were struck in the early stages of the standoff, before streets and sidewalks were blocked off with yellow police tape.

The man also threatened to stab officers with a knife or throw fecal matter at them if they approached, according to police reports. And he did toss some fecal matter to the ground at one point and could be heard calling officers "demons" and claimed he is an Indian, police reports say.

Many passers-by, seeming bemused by the man's antics, pulled out their cellphones Wednesday to snap pictures of his silhouette, accentuated by a long, bushy beard, against the gray morning sky.

Miller descended to safety just before noon Wednesday, having captivated the city and the Internet for 25 hours while police tried to coax him down.

As onlookers cheered and chanted "Man In Tree" - in deference to the Twitter hashtag - the man climbed down and sat down near the base of the conifer and appeared to be chomping on a piece of fruit.

Officers initially kept their distance but soon approached the man, got him on a gurney and took him for a medical evaluation.

Janice Wilson, who was in town from Crescent City, California, to help her son deal with his mental health and legal troubles, said she was once homeless herself, 30 years ago.

She repeatedly shouted up to the man: "We love you! Come down safely!"

"I heard people out here laughing," she said. "If somebody's in crisis to the point of putting himself at risk of suicide, what's to laugh about?"

Seattle Department of Transportation officials said they will review the health of the tree, believed to have been transplanted there in the 1970s.

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