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Coroner investigates death of apparent tagger found on office tower

Craig Fugate was found tangled in ropes hanging nine stories up on a Sacramento office building. A can of spray paint and a glass etching tool were also discovered.

April 02, 2013|By Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times

The can of spray paint sat on the ledge of a downtown Sacramento office tower. A tool for etching glass lay below. The body of Craig Fugate was tangled in some ropes about nine stories up the tower.

Authorities on Tuesday were trying to piece together the bizarre death. They believe Fugate was somehow killed Monday while trying to vandalize the office building.

"They found the spray paint where he climbed down" but no actual tags, Officer Doug Morse said.

The Sacramento coroner's office is still trying to determine a cause of death.

Fugate used rope to tie himself in a seated position as if he were rappelling, authorities said. The rope work was fairly rudimentary and authorities believe there could have been some type of malfunction. Police and firefighters who responded to the scene found a door propped open on the roof of the building at 12th and K streets.

An uncle on Tuesday told the Sacramento Bee that he had never known Fugate to deface property with graffiti.

In recent years, authorities have begun targeting daredevil taggers who have vandalized freeway signs and the walls of the Los Angeles River.

"Some guys are all about the crazy spots," said Cristian Gheorghiu, a former graffiti tagger turned gallery artist. They "risk their lives for the hard-to-get-to placement." Gheorghiu, who once tagged under the name Smear, said such extreme graffiti requires physical prowess. "A lot of these guys work out to stay in good physical condition so they can pull off stuff like that."

Earlier this year, a known tagger, Andrey Petkov, was killed trying to scrawl on a freeway sign in the Sacramento area.

In 2006, Buket, the daredevil tagger who gained Internet notoriety for his brazen, daylight tagging of a sign over the 101 Freeway in Los Angeles and vandalism of a Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus, was sentenced to three years and eight months in state prison.

Cyrus Yazdani, 26, became something of an Internet sensation when he plastered his Buket tag 20 feet above the freeway — vandalism that was captured on videotape and posted with a rap soundtrack on YouTube and on numerous tagger-related blogs.

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