Man dead, woman in critical condition after report of fight at Hercules home

HERCULES, Calif. (KTVU) - Hercules police say a male suspect is in custody after officers responded to a call for help Wednesday afternoon and found one man dead and a woman critically injured inside a house on Buttercup Court.

It is a rare homicide investigation for the small police department that only has about 21 full-time officers. The FBI has been called in to support the investigation.

Police say a witness called at 2:47 p.m. Wednesday and said two men were fighting outside the house.

"Apparently (they) were in the area of the driveway near the garage and one male was on top of the other and appeared to be choking him," said Connie Van Putten, a Hercules Police Department spokeswoman and reserve detective.

When police arrived they say they didn't see anyone, but noticed a pistol near the porch that turned out to be a fake gun.

"They did see a blood trail that went from a truck parked in the front of the driveway towards the front of the house," Detective Van Putten said.

When police went inside the house, they found a woman inside the front door, alive but with serious injuries. The man's body was found inside the garage near the door to the house.

Romy Delumen says his neighbor; Leroy Sandoval bought the house about 15 years ago and was there with his girlfriend.

'"A very nice guy, he's by himself most of the time. You know, this neighborhood is mostly working people," Delumen said.

Delumen showed KTVU a view of the back of his neighbor's house with something Delumen called unusual. A screen to a rear window appeared to have been ripped open.

"Normally it's not like that. So probably somebody came in," Delumen said, adding that his neighbor did not have a predictable schedule, "He comes at different times, there is no set schedule."

Hercules Police found a black knit cap nearby and say they arrested a suspect a few blocks away near the corner of Marigold Place and Columbine Drive.

"That person was positively identified by our witness as the person who was fighting and he apparently had some blood on him," Van Putten said.

Police waited more than six hours until they could obtain a search warrant to re-enter the house legally, process the evidence, and remove the man's body.

Police say the victims appear to be in the 50's. The male suspect taken into custody appears to be in his 20's.

Police said that the female victim was still in critical condition as of 10 p.m. Wednesday night. They would not elaborate on the nature of the injuries to the two victims.