Mass Shooting in Appomattox County - WSET.com - ABC13

Mass Shooting in Appomattox County

Eight people were shot to death on January 19 Eight people were shot to death on January 19
Christopher Speight Christopher Speight

Reporter: Shelley Basinger

Appomattox Co., VA - It was the worst mass shooting in the state since the massacre at Virginia Tech.

On a surprisingly warm and sunny day in January, Appomattox County deputies swarmed Snapps Mill Road. A woman called 911 and said she found a body in the road.

"I was on the phone, and I was actually going to go to the door and knock on the door. As I was walking, that's when I seen the other body, and I said ‘Oh My God, there's another body'," said Tammy Randolph.

State Police eventually found eight bodies. But their investigation turned dangerous as a gunman in the woods started firing at their helicopter. It had to land in a nearby field.

"I heard 9mm, a shotgun, maybe an AR-16… that type of thing. It some cases it sounded like an automatic," said neighbor Wayne Phelps.

Authorities then said Christopher Speight was the man in the woods. A standoff continued into the night.

After his arrest the next morning, we slowly learned the identities of the victims: Speight's sister Lauralee Sipe, Dwayne Sipe, 4-year-old Joshua Sipe and 15-year-old Morgan Dobyns… Jon, Karen and Emily Quarles and Emily's boyfriend Bo Scruggs.

The painful process began of saying goodbye. Meghan Pritchard was in tears while speaking at the funeral for the Quarles family.

"Most recently we've been in the process of planning my wedding this summer," she said.

In June, a judge ruled Speight incompetent to stand trial and ordered a mental evaluation. This month, he was declared competent.

The 41-year-old faces three counts of capital murder and six other charges from the January shootings.

"When I was growing up I think we just assumed that we lived in a safe world," said Pastor Bruce Johnson at Memorial United Methodist Church. "Now I think kids just can't assume that anymore."

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To see the rest of the 2010 Year in Review stories, click here.

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