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090519-nws-casino

A Rapid City police officer watches as a man falls out of the ceiling of Rushmore Casino last week. The man, Travis Sipes of Rapid City, was arrested Saturday after police determined he provided a false name and identification at the casino.

A man fell through a Rapid City casino ceiling early Wednesday morning as he tried to evade police officers. 

"Everybody just knew it was going to happen" since we could hear noises in the ceiling, said Paul Geissler, who witnessed the incident at Rushmore Casino on Mount Rushmore Road. 

Geissler said he and a friend arrived at the casino around 12:45 a.m. to have a beer. Later, he said about five police officers entered the building and a man ran into the bathroom.

Brendyn Medina, police department spokesman, said officers were in the area around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday after a welfare check was requested. After they entered the casino, he said they saw a man make a "beeline" for the bathroom and tried to contact him in case he was the person they were searching for.

After waiting about 15 minutes for him to come out, the police officers and a casino employee knocked on the bathroom door and then unlocked it and saw no one was inside, said Geissler, who added that he later told an officer he could hear clattering noises in the roof.

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"A short time later, a loud crash was heard in the main area of the business," Medina said in a news release. 

The man had crawled about 15 feet from the bathroom to the main room when the ceiling broke, Geissler said. Tiles, roofing material and a surveillance camera fell to the ground and the man was left hanging upside down, suspended by wires until those gave out and he fell to the floor. 

"The guy already knew he was done" when police asked him to put his hands behind his back, Geissler said. 

Medina said the man, who was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, was not the individual police were looking for after the request for a welfare check. The damage to the casino is estimated at around $2,000, he said later.

Geissler said he appeared uninjured after the fall except for "maybe his pride."

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— Contact Arielle Zionts at arielle.zionts@rapidcityjournal.com

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