A man from Washington was arrested on Wednesday after an hour-long standoff with the Calaveras County SWAT team beside the charred remains of a woman and a burned-out compact SUV near Copperopolis.
Sgt. Greg Stark with the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office said the man was spotted in a remote field of waist-high grass and thistle, a stone's throw from the death scene, over nine hours after law enforcement arrived.
The man — subdued after a savage bite from K9 Nox, the Sheriff’s two-year old Malinois — was arrested on suspicion of threatening law enforcement and a felony probation violation, but may also face murder charges.
“He hasn’t been charged with murder at this time,” Stark said. “They are gathering the rest of the evidence at the scene to determine which degree to charge him with.”
Stark said he could not provide information why investigators believed the woman was the victim of a homicide. Stark said there was evidence uncovered which connected the Washington man to the incinerated vehicle and the woman inside, but he could not comment on their relationship.
“There are no more details on the homicide or anything relating to that at this time,” Stark said.
The cause of death for the woman, who appeared to be in her early 40s, was pending the conclusion of an autopsy scheduled for Thursday morning, said Calaveras County Coroner Kevin Raggio.
Raggio said there was an unconfirmed identification of the woman and the Sheriff’s Office was reaching out to her family. He said he would likely have to use DNA and dental records to confirm the woman’s identity because “the body was burnt beyond recognition.”
Calaveras County Sheriff’s deputies and fire officials arrived on Lower Telegraph Road — 500 yards south of the western intersection of Telegraph Road and Highway 4 and more than seven miles west of Copperopolis — at about 8:10 a.m.
They were confronted by a small, compact SUV that was in flames, Stark said.
Nick Shawkey, captain with the Cal Fire Copperopolis station, said the cause of the fire was undetermined and the fire took only a short time to extinguish.
Stark said he did not know where the woman was in the car or if she was belted in a seat.
Stark said the Sheriff’s Office received a report that a person was using a hand-held fire extinguisher at the scene before emergency responders arrived. As of 11 a.m., Stark said someone identifying themselves as that person had not contacted the Sheriff’s Office.
Stark said it was unclear if the person with the fire extinguisher could have been the Washington man, located hours later by an eagle-eyed firefighter.
“That's one of the answers we are still trying to solve,” Stark said.
The man was first seen in the field at about 5:30 p.m. while detectives worked at the scene and appeared to be hiding in a seated position among the tall grasses, Stark said. He was approximately 40 yards from the incident scene, south of Highway 4 and east of Lower Telegraph Road.
Detectives called out to the man and he refused to emerge. The Washington man yelled back to them that he was armed with a gun and made repeated threats to harm law enforcement and himself, Stark said.
The deputies created a containment perimeter around the Washington man and called SWAT, who joined them at the scene with K-9 Nox.
At 6:20 p.m., the California Highway Patrol shut down Highway 4 in both directions.
Stark said a hostage negotiator attempted to coax the man out, but he continued to make threats and suicidal statements. Stark said he was not authorized to release any of the specific statements the man made during the standoff.
Deputies then deployed non-lethal bean bag munitions at the man, just before releasing K9 Nox. SWAT team members surrounded and handcuffed him after Nox latched to the man with his teeth.
“They tried to get him out on his open free will when it was apparent he was not coming out,” Stark said.
Stark said the man did not have a firearm, but did have a medium-sized folding pocket knife.
He was taken into custody at 7 p.m.
David Joseph Fagundes, 41, was booked into the Calaveras County Jail Wednesday night on suspicion of felonies making criminal threats to public officials, criminal threats, being under the influence of a controlled substance (which Stark said was likely a stimulant), resisting or delaying a peace officer and a felony violation of his probation in Washington.
He remains in the custody of the Calaveras County Jail on a no-bail hold for his parole violation, Stark said.
Stark said identification of Fagundes was delayed, which may be why he was not featured on Calaveras County Jail booking logs for Wednesday.
Stark said the vehicle was taken to the Sheriff’s Department in San Andreas to be processed for any usable evidence. The Sheriff’s Office is working in conjunction with the Department of Justice to locate additional evidence.
According to authorities in Washington, Fagundes was convicted of manslaughter in a downtown Spokane stabbing death in 2012 and was sentenced to serve six and a half years in Washington state prison.
Sgt. Terry Preuninger with the Spokane City Police Department confirmed Fagundes was arrested in 2012 on suspicion of murder and said he was flagged by the Washington Department of Corrections before his arrest in Calaveras County Wednesday night.
Preuninger said the flag could have indicated to a variety of possibilities, but most likely indicated he was being sought by authorities in Washington.
His situation was “settled” as of Thursday morning, Preuninger said.
Stark said he could not release Fagundes’ date of birth. Stark said the Sheriff’s Office believed the Fagundes in the Calaveras County Jail was the same person with the Spokane criminal history.
According to the Spokane County Superior Court, Fagundes pleaded guilty to first degree manslaughter in August 2013.
According to a Feb. 2012 article by the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Fagundes, then 34, initially pleaded not guilty to the charges. He was accused of stabbing Casey Anderson, 23, who fell into the street near the intersection of Third Avenue and Howard Street “with two stab wounds to his back and bite marks to his forehead.”
An employee of the Spokane County Clerk’s Office said Fagundes was initially charged with second degree murder and unlawful possession of firearms.
Fagundes was sentenced to serve 78 months, or six and a half years, in prison and serve 36 hours of community service, the clerk’s office said.
A representative of the Spokane County Jail could not be reached for comment.
According to the Spokane County Superior Court, Fagundes was arrested in September 2018 on charges of felony possession of a controlled substance, hit and run in a vehicle with property damage and driving while under the influence of a drug.
Fagundes failure to appear on April 15, the court website said.
On May 13, his trial date was set for August 5.