An uncle of the man who police suspect was in the act of tagging when he was found hanged from a downtown building said he never knew his nephew to deface any property with graffiti.
"I have never known for him to do that before," said Joseph Fugate, whose nephew, Craig Michael Fugate, 30, was discovered Monday morning hanging from rope outside the 16th floor of a building at 12th and K streets. "He is an artist. I know that."
He said that his nephew was adept at artwork on t-shirts, including silk-screening. He was a kind man, his uncle said.
"He was a really sweet kid," Joseph Fugate said. "He went out of his way to do things with others even though he didn't have the means. He seemed to gravitate toward those who were down-and-out and tried his best to help them."
The coroner's website lists Fugate's cause of death as undetermined.
Sacramento police spokeswoman Michele Gigante said Fugate apparently died accidentally while trying to vandalize the building's exterior.
Gigante said markers, glass etching tools that could be used to deface glass, and spray paint were found at the scene. Officers also found a stencil.
Craig Fugate grew up in Concord and was recently living in Vancouver, Wash. He told his uncle that he planned to move to the Sacramento area.
His uncle said that Craig Fugate was discharged from the Navy on a disability.
A Sacramento Fire Department official said Fugate accidentally asphyxiated himself.
The rope that looped around his chest and legs had constricted him, pulling him into a fetal position when the rope cinched up.
Sacramento police said today that Fugate entered the building the day prior to his body being found. Police said he entered the stairwell and tried to pry open locked doors.
Eventually, Fugate reached the top of the high-rise, known locally as the "Ban Roll-on building," 1201 K St.
The fire department official said the man used an antiquated mountaineering technique to begin his descent. He used a rope left by window washers to descend to a landing on the 17th floor.
Then, after retying the rope, he descended to the 16th floor.
Local climbing experts said the "classic rappel" technique is seldom practiced. It uses friction from the rope against the body at various points to slow the descent.
Fugate's body was noticed at 7:50 a.m., and firefighters recovered the body.
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