SACRAMENTO (CBS13/AP) – Sacramento police say the man found dead hanging from the side of a high-rise office building on Monday morning was a graffiti artist.
Investigators say they found spray-paint can on the roof of the building. They also found an etching tool that could be used to cut into glass.
The Sacramento County coroner has identified the man as 30-year-old Craig Michael Fugate.
Streets were blocked off during the busy Monday morning commute after Fugate’s body was found hanging from the 17th floor of the building on the corner of K and 12th Streets. He was on the building’s east side, wrapped up in a rope harness.
“He had two pieces of rope that were looped around his body in a fashion that at times is used in different military operations or different mountaineering techniques,” said Sacramento City Fire Department Battalion Chief Marc Bentovoja.
The 911 call went out at around 7:44 a.m. And when firefighters arrived, one man rappelled down to the Fugate, but found he had already died.
“Nothing leads us to believe this was a suicide. Police department as well as the corners are with the building engineers right now looking at some evidence that they have in the building. It looking more like accidental than anything else,” said Bentovoja.
Fugate’s knees were tucked in so tightly to his chest that firefighters say it appears he couldn’t breathe and suffocated.
“It tells me that something went really wrong and he probably does not know what he’s doing,” Pipeworks climbing instructor Ryan Rougeux said of the hanging man.
Rougeux says it appears the would-be tagger was a novice climber, using a dangerous technique called the body belay.
“This is like 1950s, nobody does a body belay. It’s not allowed in this gym. I’ve never seen anyone do it outside; it’s something you’d do in the most emergency situation,” he said.
It’s a technique that uses no safety equipment. The climber wraps the rope around his body and loops it around a leg to go hands-free.
Rougeux says the body belay doesn’t leave much room for error; and the more you struggle, the tighter the rope gets.
Firefighters believe Fugate may have been asphyxiated, but his official cause of death will be determined by the coroner.
The office building, named the 1201 K Tower, houses offices for lobbyists, public relations businesses and law firms that do business at the Capitol.
This is the second time a suspected graffiti artist has died in the last three weeks. In mid-March, 22-year-old Andre Petkov fell to his death while spray-painting an Interstate 80 overpass near Winters Street.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.