A Galena School Board member was arrested Monday night after allegedly firing a gun at a neighbor’s house.
William Van Cleave, 68, was taken into custody by Cherokee County sheriff’s deputies after what authorities say was an incident outside his home southeast of Galena at 2414 Bartlett St.
Sheriff David Groves said the firing of the shot apparently was part of a long-standing dispute with neighbors Doug and Cindy Ashley, who live across the road from Van Cleave at 2403 Bartlett Street. Groves said he does not believe deputies found evidence that any more than a single shot was fired. No one was struck by the bullet.sghgh
Sheriff’s deputies and Galena police responded to a report of gunfire at the address. Groves said Van Cleave was no longer armed when officers arrived. But he did not immediately comply with their commands, and he struggled with deputies attempting to take him into custody, the sheriff said.
Van Cleave was taken to the Cherokee County Jail in Columbus and held overnight before being released Tuesday on his own recognizance Tuesday morning.
The Sheriff’s Department is seeking charges of aggravated assault, criminal discharge of a firearm and three counts of child endangerment, with three children having been inside the Ashleys’ home at the time, Groves said. He said a charge of obstruction also is being sought.
Van Cleave, a current member of the Galena School Board, and a former elementary-school principal, teacher and coach.
Cindy Ashley’s daughter, Shawn Vaughn, 39, said she was at her mother’s house when the incident took place. She said Van Cleave has been in conflict with her mother and stepfather for several months, primarily on suspicions of each other in recent deaths of pet dogs.
She said some of Van Cleave’s dogs turned up dead, and then one of her family’s dogs was found dead.
Vaughn said she went inside and called 911 as Van Cleave drove up to his house. But he returned in the truck a short time later and parked on his property across the road from them. He had a handgun with him and was waving it about while they were all back inside their house, she said. Van Cleave then drove back up to his house a second time, parked the truck and walked part way back down his property toward their place as they came back outside.
Vaughn said Van Cleave then fired a shot in their general direction. She said Van Cleave’s son, who lives down the road, arrived a short time later and began trying to get the gun away from him.
Groves said the revolver was found by deputies and seized as evidence. He said a single shell casing also was recovered at the scene. But deputies could not find the spent bullet, he said.