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Daylong Standoff Ends in Tragedy

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RICH SQUARE — June 23, 1996, 11:10 a.m.EDT

A daylong standoff in this small Northampton County has ended -- but it closed with the death of the perpetrator and the burning down of his home. Charles Spruill was found dead at the scene, but cause of death has not been released.

A domestic disturbance that escalated about 8 p.m. Friday night led to an intermittent shooting at law officers over almost 20 hours. Police Chief Eddie Buffaloe, Sr., was shot Friday night when he went to the Spruill home in response to a call from Spruill's wife Virginia.

Buffaloe was taken to a local hospital for treatment of two shotgun wounds. One pellet was removed from his head; the other remains just below Buffaloe's right eye.

Spruill wounded an Alcoholic Beverage Control officer and a deputy Saturday. They were treated at area hospitals and released.

Officers resorted to tear gas grenades, and possibly also a concussion grenade, in trying to get Spruill out of the house. The last effort set the house on fire late Saturday afternoon, and it burned down before firefighters could get to the scene.

After calling for help, Virginia Spruill was able to escape the house unharmed when she heard her husband reloading his shotgun. She had been hiding in a closet.

Law officers had cut off electricity and water to the house. Negotiators and family members had been on the scene, trying to convince Spruill to give himself up peacefully. Using bullhorns and public address systems they tried to communicate with Spruill, but he would not engage in any discussion