Property dispute at center of mass shooting in Louisa

By Laura Geller - bio | email

LOUISA, VA (WWBT) – NBC12 has learned Sunday's mass shooting wasn't the first time authorities visited the Charles "Zeke" Sponaugle Jr.'s home on Twigg Drive.

Three people, including the gunman, are dead. Four relatives are suffering from gunshot wounds. Authorities say this tragic outcome all started with an acre and a half piece of land, on which the family can't seem to agree.

Charles Sponaugle Jr.'s family members did not want our cameras pointed in their direction.  Neighbors would not comment on camera.

Most everyone we talked to said a county land record NBC12 has uncovered explains the situation. Ever since Sponaugle's mother left the property on Twigg Drive to six separate family members, tension has been building.

And 2 o'clock Sunday, sheriff's deputies were called to the house for what they're calling a minor argument. They left, however, when they thought things had calmed down.

That wasn't the first time the sheriff's dept has come to the residence. Since 2001, deputies have responded there 23 times for smaller domestic disputes.

A 911 call three hours later, however, turned into the worst case scenario.

"As far as severity, this is probably the worst one I've seen," said Louisa Sheriff's Department Maj. Donald Lowe.

"As soon as the deputies arrived on scene, they were in an active shooter situation, they were being fired upon. They were met with gunfire," said Virginia State Police Spokesperson Corrine Geller.

Two officers fired back, killing Charles Sponaugle Jr. At that point, he had already murdered his son and nephew and wounded four other family members with a 22-caliber pistol.

"You can't predict something like that. You never know what's going on in a person's mind and what their breaking point is," said Lowe.

The two deputies involved are on administrative leave while the investigation continues. That is standard protocol.

The question of what happens to the property still remains. Authorities said family members indicated the fight wasn't over. Deputies are monitoring the situation closely.

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