An uncle of the man who police suspect was in the act of tagging when he accidentally asphyxiated himself outside the 16th floor of a downtown office tower said Tuesday that he never knew his nephew to deface any property with graffiti.
"I have never known for him to do that before," Joseph Fugate said of his nephew, Craig Michael Fugate, 30, who was discovered Monday morning as office workers arrived at the high-rise at 1201 K St., just blocks from the Capitol.
"He is an artist. I know that," Fugate said.
He said his nephew was adept at artwork on T-shirts, including silk-screening.
Sacramento police spokeswoman Michele Gigante said Fugate apparently died accidentally while trying to tag the building's exterior. She said markers, 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 had told his uncle that he planned to move to the Sacramento area.
His uncle said he had been discharged from the Navy on a disability.
"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 Sacramento County coroner's website lists Fugate's cause of death as undetermined.
A Sacramento Fire Department official said he had accidentally asphyxiated himself.
The rope that Fugate had used to lower himself down the building's facade had looped around his chest and legs, constricting him and pulling him into a fetal position when the rope cinched up.
Sacramento police said Tuesday that Fugate had entered the building Sunday.
Police said he entered the stairwell and tried to pry open locked doors. Eventually, Fugate reached the top of the 19-story high-rise, which is known locally as the "Ban Roll-on" building.
Using rope left by window washers, the man employed an antiquated mountaineering technique to descend to a 17th-floor landing, the Fire Department official said.
Then, after retying the rope, he descended to the 16th floor, where he became stuck.
Fugate's body was noticed at 7:50 a.m. Firefighters recovered the body.
Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079. Follow him on Twitter @Lindelofnews.