HOUSTON - A man stripped naked outside the Houston Zoo in Hermann Park Monday and swam casually in a lake for at least two hours in front of police, firefighters and park patrons.
The unidentified man appeared angry and agitated. He repeatedly cursed firefighters and police officers who tried to coax him out of the water, at one time declaring, “I'm God!”
It unfolded just outside the front entrance to the Houston Zoo before hundreds of parents and kids.
“It was crazy. I mean, I don't know why he got in there.” Madison Markum said. She was riding her bike in the park with her brother.
About a dozen firefighters, an HPD mental health unit, the police dive team and a police negotiator first tried to convince him to give up. When that was unsuccessful, the dive team put a Zodiac boat into the water and went to get him.
“The technique is to just come in behind him and push him to nearest shore, and that's what we did and we were prepared to receive him on shore.” HPD negotiator Mike Garrett explained.
Police still don't know the man's name. He refused to give it. But he admitted to them he has a history of mental illness, and hasn't been taking his medication for some time.
He was checked into the county's psychiatric ward at Ben Taub Hospital. Police say staffers there recognized him from previous visits.
Police said it doesn't appear drugs were involved in Monday's incident.
Hermann Park was recently the site of more than a dozen Kush drug overdoses.
Since then Houston police have been working to clear drug use and crime from the park.