Vehicle Fire in Copperopolis Leads to Discovery of Body, Suspect Hiding Nearby

COPPEROPOLIS -- A car fire on lower Telegraph Road Wednesday led to a shocking discovery in Copperopolis.

Detectives were back out at the scene Thursday combing the area for clues into the county's first homicide of the year.

Just after 7 a.m., Calaveras County sheriff's deputies were sent to a vehicle fire at the intersection of lower Telegraph Road and Highway 4.

Flames reached 15 to 20 feet in the air, burning part of a tree and leaving melted metal and car parts behind at the scene.

“The fire department arrived on scene, they extinguished the fire and located a body in the vehicle,” said Calaveras County Sheriff’s Sgt. Greg Stark.

(Credit: Calaveras County Sheriff's Office)

Deputies say a Cal Fire captain spotted a man hiding out in a field off Highway 4 and notified detectives still at the scene. When they tried to approach the man, he started making threats.

“He made statements that he had a weapon and that was going to use it on himself and/or deputies. They created a perimeter and called for the SWAT team,” Stark said.

Highway 4 was shut down during the hourslong standoff.

“The SWAT team deployed Knox, our K-9, who was able to pull the suspect into a position of advantage where the SWAT team moved in and placed him under arrest,” Stark explained.

Deputies identified the suspect as David Joseph Fagundes, a man wanted out of Washington state on probation violations.

They say investigators found evidence linking him to the deadly car fire.

“It's being investigated as a homicide,” Stark said.

Deputies are waiting on an autopsy report to confirm the victim's identity and determine the cause of death.

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