A five-hour standoff ended Wednesday when a gunman who had been standing over a dead woman on a porch of a Jefferson County home surrendered to sheriff’s deputies.
Later Wednesday, prosecutors charged the man, identified as Steve Earnest Treece, 62, with murder, armed criminal action and unlawful use of a weapon. He was ordered held without bail.
Sheriff Dave Marshak said negotiators arrested the man after he agreed to surrender peacefully. During the ordeal, the gunman wouldn’t let officers anywhere close to the body.
Marshak confirmed that the body was that of a woman. Authorities have not released her name, but said earlier in the day they believed it to be the body of Treece’s wife. The couple lived at the home, in this small village south of Cedar Hill.
A neighbor, Justin Colbert, said he is close friends with the son of the couple who lived at the home east of Highway 30. He identified Treece’s wife as Donna Treece.
“As close as I was to that family, I can’t imagine what happened,” said Colbert, 29. “We’re a close-knit neighborhood here. It’s nothing we would expect to hear. This is devastating.”
It all began when a neighbor called police after hearing gunfire about 6 a.m. The caller said she had gone outside after hearing the shots and a man had pointed a gun at her, Higginbotham said. The neighbor ran back into her home.
Police rushed to the neighborhood and found a man, later identified as Treece, on a deck and “discovered a person unresponsive on the deck,” Marshak said. Treece pointed a gun at officers, so they ducked for cover.
Deputies tried to talk with Treece and asked for negotiators to come help. Higginbotham said police, keeping some distance, used a high-powered scope to look at the body.
The victim’s body was on the porch at the feet of the gunman for the duration of the standoff, from about 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. Wednesday when Treece surrendered. Treece stayed outside the house during the entire standoff.
At one point during the standoff, police reached the couple’s son, but he was uncooperative, saying he hadn’t talked to his parents in years. Then he showed up at the scene and tried to enter the area police had restricted. Officers were able to walk him back to his car.
Suddenly, he drove his car toward the restricted area, narrowly missing a cameraman and some equipment that reporters had set up near the scene, Higginbotham said.
The man then ran away from his car and detectives chased him, eventually arresting him in a wooded area, Higginbotham said. It’s possible he may face charges.
Higginbotham said deputies searched their call logs, going back five years, and found that they haven’t responded to any incidents at the Treece house during that time.
Neighbor Terry Burgess can see the home where the standoff took place from his deck. Deputies told him to stay inside during the incident.
“You think you know your neighbors a lot better than you do,” he said.
Colbert, the neighbor who was friends with the couple’s son, said he was shocked at the woman’s death, allegedly at the hands of her husband.
“She was the sweetest woman you would ever want to meet,” he said. “She was a saint. She deserved a lot better than that.”
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