Court documents reveal Louisa killer's criminal history

By Laura Geller - bio | email

LOUISA, VA (WWBT) – We've uncovered new information about the Louisa man who killed two relatives, injured four others and then died in a shootout with police.  Sunday's mass shooting was not Charles "Zeke" Sponaugle's first run-in with the law.

We closely examined court documents we obtained from Louisa County.  They show Sponaugle had a long history of alcohol and drug use.  Whether that behavior contributed to Sunday's violence, is still under investigation.

In October of 1979, a 21-year old Charles Sponaugle Jr. is arrested on possession of marijuana charges.  Then in 2000, the trouble continues.  Sponaugle is charged with his third DWI and his license is taken away.

The documents detail the killer's 2007 fight to get his driver's license reinstated.  They give insight into the man at the center of Sunday's crime scene.  He is a father of four, who killed his own son and nephew, wounded four family members and then turned his gun on police.

According to the three-year-old evaluation, Sponaugle lost his arm in a car accident, battled colon cancer and dubbed himself an alcoholic.  He told investigators he took his first drink in first grade.  At the time, the gunman said he believed drinking had an overall negative impact on his life.

NBC12 asked police if there was any indication alcohol was a factor in Sunday's tragedy. They said it is too early to tell.  A toxicology report could take four to 12 weeks.

We've also uncovered evidence of just how much fire power was used in the shootout.  Police collected Sponaugle's .22 caliber pistol with a 10-round magazine and cartridge cases from the scene.  Authorities also took a .45 caliber bullet and six .45 caliber cartridge cases.  Every Louisa County sheriff's deputy, including the two who responded to Twigg drive, carries a Glock .45.

The 2007 documents also contain character references from those closest to Sponaugle at the time.  An ex-wife is quoted as saying "he had a problem for a while, but has since realized his life would be better without alcohol."  A friend also said Sponaugle was a changed man three years ago and she thought he was a responsible person.

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