Suspect in Newcastle gun battle found guilty
A 46-year-old Applegate man who engaged a Placer County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team in a gun battle in Newcastle in 2006 was found guilty by a trial jury of 10 felony counts of attempted murder and 10 felony counts of assault with a firearm on peace officers.
The jury also found David Allan Virgo guilty of two felony counts of being a felon in possession of firearms Wednesday in Placer County Superior Court.
In addition to finding Virgo guilty on the multiple counts of attempted murder and assault with a firearm on peace officers, the jury determined that a total of 50 special allegations that the defendant used firearms and acted with premeditation were true.
Despite the fact that 50 to 70 shots were exchanged between the officers and Virgo, who was barricaded inside a home, no one was hit by the gunfire. Virgo eventually surrendered when a teargas canister was shot into the home.
The defendant faces at least 35 years in a state prison, said Placer County Deputy District Attorney Jeff Wilson.
Virgo, who had a history of weapons violations and who was considered by his parole officer as “unpredictable,” was being sought by law enforcement officers on an arrest warrant for assaulting another man and threatening the person with a handgun.
On the night of Oct. 18, 2006, Placer County sheriff’s officers tracked Virgo to a home on Happy Hollow Lane in Newcastle. The sheriff’s Special Enforcement Team, similar to a SWAT team, responded and 10 members of the unit surrounded the home.
But before the SET members could make peaceful contact with Virgo, another man who was staying at the house was outside on a phone call and spotted two of the SET members approaching the home.
Soon after, shots were heard coming from inside the house. Officers responded by shooting out a floodlight that illuminated the outside yard. During subsequent exchange of gunfire, five unarmed persons came out the front door and crawled to safety.
Virgo remained alone in the home exchanging shots with the officers.
Officers testified that Virgo could be heard yelling that he had explosives and that he would “blow the place up. I’ll kill everyone.” But the lobbing of teargas into the home ended the standoff.
Virgo, who is in custody in the county jail without bail, returns to court for sentencing on Nov. 19.
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