On November 17, 2009 at approximately 4:45 pm, Robert Timothy Spriggs, Jr. went to the residence of John Gregory Davis at 4565 Old Dalton Road. An altercation ensued in the front yard, and Spriggs, age 26, shot Davis, age 46, several times, fatally wounding him. Davis was pronounced dead at the scene.According to the Rome News-Tribune, Floyd County Chief Deputy Tom Caldwell confirmed that Spriggs turned himself in to Floyd County police investigator Jeff Jones after Sheriff Tim Burkhalter talked to the fleeing man.
Spriggs fled the scene in the victim’s vehicle and traveled to 127 East Clinton Drive, in attempt to locate his ex-girlfriend, the daughter of the victim. Spriggs forcefully entered the residence and shot the homeowner, Scott Sulsberger, age 32, seriously injuring him. The accused then fled on foot into a wooded area near the second scene.
An obviously distraught Burkhalter was reeling Tuesday night from the long-distance negotiation where he talked to Spriggs via cell phone as the young man fled through the woods near the Hidden Valley subdivision off Burnett Ferry Road.Rarely do we get such a clear look into the progression of a murder. Spriggs had a history of domestic violence if a protective order was issued against him. He felt out of control because his victim was taking steps to get free. At that point, many batterers will threaten harm to themselves to compel their victims to return out of guilt or fear, or as a final act to prove that they are in control of their lives. Threats of suicide by the batterer are also one of the greatest red flags for lethal danger to victim, because if he is gone he can't face consequences for his actions. As an ex-Army Ranger, he also had access to firearms and knew how to use them. Instead of, or possibly in addition to, taking his own life, it was clear that he meant to take hers.
Spriggs was being pursued by local law enforcement in the wake of the two shootings.
Burkhalter is an old family friend of Spriggs and said he’s never in all of his 26 years of law enforcement had something hit so close to home.
“My primary concern was seeing this come to an end without him hurting himself or hurting a law enforcement officer,” said Burkhalter.
He said he has known Spriggs his whole life and described him as "a good kid who has never been in trouble.”
Spriggs is an Armuchee High graduate who served four years in the Air Force, which included deployment to Iraq. He later played football with the Shorter College Hawks.
Burkhalter said he knew Spriggs was “upset over an issue with his ex-girlfriend” after talking with him a couple of days ago.
The sheriff said Spriggs was troubled about a temporary protective order that had been issued against him.
On Tuesday, Burkhalter was in Savannah for a professional conference. When he got out of his sessions in late afternoon, he saw that he had several missed calls from Spriggs but no messages. Then he got a call from a family member who was concerned Spriggs might harm himself.
Just minutes later, the sheriff was notified of the shootings, Spriggs’ suspected involvement and the manhunt under way for him.
What is also worth pointing out is that the sheriff thought Spriggs was a good kid who had never been in trouble, even though he was aware of the protective order in place. The girlfriends of good kids don't protective orders to keep them safe. As a sheriff, he should also have recognized that the girlfriend was in severe danger. After all, nationally, about 50% of protective orders are violated, and it was clear that Spriggs went to her father's house and her sister's house looking for his former partner. Later reports also indicate that police were called to the Davis household days before to photograph injuries inflicted by Spriggs to Mr. Davis and his daughter. Knowing that the sheriff feared that Spriggs was suicidal this quote - “My primary concern was seeing this come to an end without him hurting himself or hurting a law enforcement officer.” - not once mentioning worry for the victim is more than appalling.
Our thoughts are with the Davis family.