Bradford R. Fenocchio
PLACER COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY
10810 Justice Center Drive, Suite 240
Roseville, California 95678
For Immediate Release
Date: September 1, 2010
Public Information Officer
Assistant District Attorney
MAN WHO HAD GUN BATTLE WITH SHERIFF’S OFFICERS IS FOUND
GUILTY OF MULTIPLE COUNTS OF ATTEMPTED MURDER, ASSAULT
A 46-year-old 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 today 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.
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 jury’s 22-count verdict culminated a month-long trial for Virgo in Placer County Superior Court. The defendant, a resident of Applegate, faces at least 35 years in a state prison, said prosecutor Jeff Wilson of the Placer County District Attorney’s Office.
“After these verdicts, I anticipate that Mr. Virgo will never get out of prison and never get another chance to kill a peace officer,” Wilson said outside the courtroom.
During the trial, it was established that 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.
Leaders of the SET team were aware of Virgo’s reputation for being unpredictable and that he’d once boasted of being an enforcer for a Hell’s Angels unit known as the “Filthy Few.”
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.
Despite the two officers’ attempts to explain that they were from the sheriff’s office and were looking for Virgo, the man backed away and went into the house to warn others in the home that officers were outside.
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.
Wilson, the prosecutor, praised the SET members.
“Just because our peace officers anticipate that they may be shot at in the line of duty does not mean we should tolerate the defendant’s behavior,” Wilson said. “Obviously, the jury agreed.
“The evidence presented at trial showed the SET members demonstrated the highest level of professionalism and expertise in bringing a dangerous situation to a conclusion without serious injury to anyone. They should be commended for doing an exceptional job.”
The trial jury deliberated for one full day on Tuesday, reaching their verdicts late that afternoon. Placer County Superior Court Judge Colleen Nichols ordered them to return this morning to announce their decision.
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.
The special allegations could enhance the sentence that Nichols will hand out on Nov. 19 when Virgo, who is in custody in the county jail without bail, returns to court for sentencing.