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Man pulled from downtown high-rise building declared dead

A man found tangling from ropes and hanging from the 17th floor of a downtown high-rise building Monday morning apparantly accidentally died of asphixiation and was likely a graffiti tagger, authorities say. 

Identified as 30-year-old Craig Michael Fugate, of Vancouver, Wash., the man apparantly entered the building on Easter Sunday, and eventually made his way to the roof. He made his way in alone, and apparantly climbed to an upper ledge area of the roof, where a hoist is stored, lowered himself to another level and then tried to rappel from that landing, according to the Sacramento Police Department. 

Fugate harnessed himself in a rope and fan belt for repelling and deployed over the edge, where he became entagled in the cinched harness, the SPD stated. 

Police found spray paint on the roof, as well as an etching tool that could cut into glass, SPD Spokeswoman Michele Gigante said. 

The man was between 10 to 15 feet below the balcony and close to the 17th floor of the building at 1201 K Street.  

Two pieces of rope were looped around the man’s body in a manner that is often used in military operations or mountaineering adventures, in what’s known as a "clover leaf" knot, said Sacramento Fire Department Batallion Chief Marc Bentovoja. It provides the means "of lowering down a rope and securing to a rope without using special equipment or harness," said Bentovoja. 

"And with his body weight hanging on the rope, it looks like that might have been what tightened the rope on him," he said. "It’s used to help keep you into the rope, but can also work against you if you wind up in a bad posture." 

The rope came from the building and was secured to a piece of equipment commonly used for window washers, Bentovoja said. The man was found in a somewhat seated position. 

"Whether he got stuck in that position, whether he had a medical emergency at some point in that position, the way that he had passed was obviously the way we found him," Bentovoja said. "He was almost in a seated type position with the rope cinched on him."

Another suspected graffiti tagger was recently found dead, only 15 days prior to Monday’s incident. North Highlands resident Andre Petkov, 22, appararantly fell from the I-80 bridge east of Winters Street on March 16. 

Police say the two incidents aren’t related, and are "just an unusual coincidence," Gigante said.

The call to emergency responders came in Monday at 7:44 a.m., and personnel from Cosumnes River Fire Department, Sacramento City Fire Department, and the SPD responded. 11th Street was closed off in both directions between J and L streets, and a small cowd of people gathered outside during the rescue. The body was recovered shortly after 9 a.m. 

A crowd gathered to watch the rescue workers.

Bentovoja said based on where the man was outside the building, and where he had to have started to reach that point, leads him to believe the man had some type of skill and knowledge to access the area. "Where it went wrong I’m not sure," he said.  

The Sacramento County Coroner’s Office will determine the official cause of death, and release the man’s name once his family has been notified. 

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