3 Dead, 4 Wounded as Result of Family Dispute

Va. property dispute ends in sheriff-involved shootout

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A fight over property prompted a Louisa, Va., man to kill two family members and injure four others before police shot him dead. (Published Monday, Aug 23, 2010)

    A neighborhood dispute ended with three people dead and four others injured in a central Virginia town, authorities said.

    Charles P. Steadman Sponaugle, 52, unleashed a pit bull on sheriff's deputies and fired two shots Sunday afternoon before deputies returned fire, killing Sponaugle and the dog at a mobile home in Louisa, investigators said.

    The shootings apparently were the result of a family dispute over a piece of property. Deputies had been called to the property almost two dozen times in recent years, including at about 2 p.m. Sunday.

    Deputies were called to the property again at about 4:45 p.m. when Sponaugle opened fire with a .22-caliber semiautomatic target pistol, the Associated Press reported. Sponaugle killed his son, 29-year-old Charles P. Steadman, and his nephew, 23-year-old Mark A. Cooper Jr. He also wounded his sister, Kitty L. Cooper, 41; his brother-in-law Mark A. Cooper Sr., 45; and nephews Gerald A. Steadman Jr., 26, and Jason C. Steadman, 27.

    Jason Steadman was flown to the University of Virginia Medical Center with life-threatening injuries. Gerald Steadman was held overnight for observation, and Kitty and Mark Cooper Sr. were treated and released.

    No deputies were hurt.

    Multiple residences are on the property, including Sponaugle's mobile home, where the shootings took place, according to Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller.

    The property was assessed at $52,100, according to court documents. Sponaugle's mother deeded it to him and five others, including Kitty Cooper, in July 2002, the AP reported.

    Since 2001, deputies had been called to the property 23 times, but the disputes had never gotten physical, Louisa sheriff's Maj. Donnie Lowe said.