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2 officers killed in S.C. standoff with landowners

ABBEVILLE, S.C. -- A father and son angered by a state plan to seize some of their land for a highway killed two officers who went to their home, setting off a 13-hour standoff and a "horrendous gunfight," authorities and neighbors said.

"This was planned," said Robert Stewart, state law enforcement division chief. The gunfight was so fierce that police had to bring in extra ammunition, Stewart said. Agents found suicide notes, anti-American material, and items that may relate to militias, Stewart said.

Arthur Bixby and his son, Steven, 36, were charged with murder in the deaths of the two officers, authorities said yesterday. Steven Bixby was to be arraigned yesterday; Arthur Bixby, was still being treated for gunshot wounds. Arthur Bixby's wife, Rita, was charged with being an accessory to murder. All three are charged with conspiracy, officials said.

Neighbors said the Bixbys were angry over the road-widening project, even though it would take only a portion of their land. On Monday morning, Abbeville County Sheriff's Deputy Danny Wilson was sent to the Bixby home. When he didn't report back, two other officers went to the house. One of those officers, Donnie M. Ouzts, was fatally wounded near his car, but the officer with him escaped uninjured, authorities said. Wilson's body was later found inside the house. The gun battle erupted Monday night and went on for nearly 10 minutes while police fired tear gas into the house. Steven Bixby gave up shortly after the battle, but Arthur Bixby wasn't removed for two more hours.

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