(This article was first published on Oct 21, 2005.)

This story was reported by Mark McDonald, Chris Brennan, Earni Young, Dave Davies, Simone Weichselbaum, Erin Einhorn and Kitty Caparella. It was written by McDonald.

A despondent City Councilman Rick Mariano , after a day of repeated media interviews over his likely indictment on federal corruption charges and a talk with his criminal-defense lawyer, took a lonely elevator ride to the tower observation deck atop City Hall late yesterday afternoon.

Why Mariano went there is unclear, but his ride set off a mad scramble of helmeted cops, politicians and friends to the tower in an effort to talk the three-term councilman out of the locked observation deck. 

With helicopters swirling around the tower, police broke through a locked door to reach the deck, which is more than 500 feet above the ground.

Then, Mayor Street, who has emerged as Mariano 's "spiritual adviser," talked one-on-one with the man he's often called "Cousin Rick" and persuaded him to come down. 
Mariano , who in the course of a 10-year political career perfected a tough-guy image complete with a permit to carry a gun, has become increasingly despondent in recent weeks over the pending indictment, expected to be presented Tuesday. 
Friends and city police worried that Mariano was contemplating suicide . Although you can't jump from the glass-enclosed observation deck, no one knew whether Mariano had a gun. He didn't. His supporters said later that Mariano simply had been looking for a place to "reflect" on the mess in which he finds himself. 
The drama began about 4 p.m. and ended about two hours and 40 minutes later, when U.S. Rep. Bob Brady and Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson whisked Mariano out of a southside entrance to City Hall. 
Mariano was taken to Hall-Mercer, the mental-health-crisis center at Pennsylvania Hospital, where he checked in for psychiatric evaluation. 
Electricians Union leader John Dougherty, Mariano 's political patron, said late last night that Mariano "is doing all right and resting."
His wife and son were with him at the hospital. 
After returning to City Hall from the hospital, Street said: "I did not think he was suicidal. Different people do different things. We can only speculate why he went to the tower. I know the councilman fairly well . . . but I don't think at any point in time that he was on the verge of making any attempt on his life. I think the whole thing has been blown out of proportion and he's fine."
Others noted that had Mariano wanted to kill himself, he could have simply stepped out of a window in his own fifth-floor office. 
"From my understanding, he couldn't jump if he wanted to," Commissioner Johnson said, because the observation deck is encased in thick glass. 
But the possibility of a gun was another matter and probably explained why SWAT team members were sent to the tower. 
Pat Dugan, an attorney on Mariano 's staff, said that his boss was not armed at the time. 
"I called Rick and we talked on the phone for 15 to 20 minutes while he was up there," he said. 
Dugan said Mariano 's office received a phone call between 4 and 4:30 saying that Mariano was in the tower. 
Dugan declined to reveal what transpired in his lengthy conversation with Mariano , but he quickly came to his boss' defense. 
"I just saw a human being pushed to the very end of his breaking point by unethical treatment," Dugan said. 
Dugan, who recently served a tour of duty in Iraq as a reservist, blasted the U.S. Attorney's Office for not maintaining "secrecy and confidentiality" in the grand jury process. 
"The people who are supposed to uphold the law, are they pushing him to the brink where they break a person before he gets his day in court? To me, that's what's occurring."
As he talked to his boss, Dugan said he told him to keep fighting until he gets his day in court. 
"What people need to understand is that despite how he is portrayed and some of the comments that come out of his own mouth, Rick has a big heart," Dugan said. "He's a human being and he's a pretty damned good district City Council person, and this trial by media is overwhelming to him and his family and friends."
Dougherty said, "I know Ricky. He is very well-prepared to fight whatever is coming. He is not going to give up."
He also blamed the media, which arrived on the scene after police and fire officials, for "blowing up" the situation. 
Street praised Mariano for his willingness to check into the hospital for observation. 
"Out of an abundance of caution, we and his wife and other family members just think it's a good thing to do. I commend him for it," Street said. "When people are under a lot of stress, then they ought to be smart enough to figure out that they need to get away and talk to a professional about all of it . . . I think he will be just fine. He decided pretty much voluntarily that he would get a little help dealing with all this."
Speaking in general terms, Dr. James Coane, a Newtown clinical psychologist, said there is a more hopeful prognosis for someone whose suicidal gesture occurs in a public place. 
"The outlook is better for them than for someone who attempted suicide in private and was discovered by accident," he said. 
Of the treatment, he said, "You flood them with support and buy time, give them a chance to calm down, help them find a new way to perceive things."
Frank Keel, Mariano 's media consultant, was trying to run interference for Mariano yesterday, a day when Council meets for its weekly session. Unlike past weeks, when Mariano was tight-lipped about the federal corruption probe, he repeatedly answered questions about the probe and his future. 
"I will tell you he felt somewhat remorseful from his exchanges with the media," Keel said. "I think he regretted talking to you guys because he broke with our prior strategy. I can tell you that the two media scrums he had today did not go well for him. He should not have spoken and I advised him not to, but at the end of the day, he is his own man."
Outside City Hall, a crowd of gawkers gathered as the day darkened. Carmen Sosa, a Mariano aide, recalled that her boss had not looked well yesterday. "He was very sad, very down. It's been very hard for him."
Standing outside the northeast entrance to City Hall, District Attorney Lynne Abraham said, "I've known Rick forever and he's been helpful to me. And while I can't help him with his personal situation, I didn't want him to think he was abandoned or alone."
For her part, Abraham wondered about Mariano 's motives in going up into the tower. 
"If he was in the tower, then it's pretty difficult to understand anything else that he may have been contemplating," she said. "But we hope that wasn't the case."