Lee’s Birthday Bang at Appomattox

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APPOMATTOX, Va.—Christopher Bryan Speight, a 39-year-old security guard, marked General Robert E. Lee’s birthday with a deadly shooting rampage in the tiny community of Appomattox, Va., best known as the place where Lee surrendered during the Civil War.

Sheriff O. Wilson Staples said that Speight, whose concealed weapons permit was renewed three times since 1999 surrendered at 7:10 a.m. Wednesday after a 20-hour manhunt in the wake of his alleged shooting spree.


The bloodbath killed eight people and he is suspected of planting bombs on the quiet Virginia homestead he shared with his sister and her family.
State police identified Speight’s sister, Lauralee Sipe, and her husband, Dewayne, both 38, as two of the victims, along with Ronald Scruggs, 16; Emily Quarles, 15; Karen and Jonathan Quarles, both 43; Morgan Dobyns, 15; and four-year-old Joshua Sipe.

David Anderson, who owns a market where Speight sometimes worked as a security guard, said Speight was worried and complained that he feared being turned out of the house.

Attorney Henry Devening said he does not understand how Speight could have thought anyone was throwing him out, since Speight’s sister last week signed a deed putting the property in his name, as their grandparents had asked in a 2006 trust.

Speight’s mother deeded the house to Speight and his sister in 2006, shortly before she died of brain cancer.

The drama unfolded when a mortally wounded man was found Tuesday on the side of an unpaved road bounded by forests and farmland. Then sheriff’s deputies discovered seven more bodies — three in the house and four just outside.

More than 100 police officers converged as chaos ensued in this rural patch of central Virginia. Speight allegedly fired a high-powered rifle at least four times at a state police helicopter trying to flush him out of the woods, rupturing its gas tank and forcing it to land.

Bomb technicians discovered a “multitude” of explosives Wednesday at Speight’s home, and crews were detonating the devices. As of late Wednesday, bomb squads had found and set off seven explosives.

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