New details in kidnapping, robbery of former Fresno County official

FRESNO, Calif.

Tim Casagrande was enjoying his retirement, and planning a day on the golf course, when an armed man strolled into his house through an unlocked door and changed his outlook.

The next three hours were the most frightening of his life.

By the time police found Tim Casagrande in his black Toyota Camry in Southwest Fresno, the worst was over. But a frightening morning left Fresno County's former environmental health director in terrible condition.

"He appeared to be injured, tired, exhausted, and disoriented," said Fresno police detective Adrian Alvarez.

Back at Casagrande's Northeast Fresno home, police collected evidence of a home invasion, kidnapping, and carjacking. Casagrande's son had reported his father missing after he didn't show up for a game of golf. The son went to his dad's home and found a mess.

"The house had been ransacked, there was a large big screen TV from the living room that was in the garage and his father's black Camry was missing," said Fresno police officer Frank Sabato.

Casagrande later told police an armed man had walked into the house just after his wife left for work. He said the man disguised his face with something like a bandana, but his intentions were anything but hidden.

"The individual told him not to look at him," said Alvarez. "He felt a gun pressed to the back of his head and he was told not to move or he would kill him."

After taking jewelry and other items from the home, the suspect tied up Casagrande and drove him to a couple banks to withdraw money from ATMs. One of the banks snapped a photo as the man conducted his transaction. Casagrande never got a great look at his attacker, but the man in the photo closely resembled Renard Brooks Jr. and he was soon arrested.

When police caught him, they say Brooks was wearing Casagrande's wedding ring. Brooks had just been released from prison less than three weeks before this crime.

Now he is facing life in prison if he's convicted, and a judge decided Monday there is enough evidence for him to stand trial for kidnapping, robbery, and other charges.

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