A former candidate for Gila County sheriff faces domestic violence charges after allegedly striking his wife in front of his children last week.
Ray Van Buskirk, 40, told deputies he lost his cool when his kids started acting up, but never punched or hit his wife. He said he merely pushed her out of the room so he could be alone.
His wife claims Van Buskirk did much more than that, grabbing her by the hair, throwing her on the floor and hitting her in the back of the head after she threw a bowl of popcorn at him in their Globe home.
Van Buskirk’s children back up their mother’s claims, saying they saw him hit and yell at her. His daughter said she tried to defend her mother, but Van Buskirk pushed her out of the way.
Police arrested Van Buskirk Sept. 18 on charges of domestic violence, assault and disorderly conduct and booked him into the Globe jail.
Van Buskirk ran for Gila County sheriff, but lost to fellow Democrat Craig Jones in the August primary.
“I guess this is what happens when you run for sheriff,” Van Buskirk told deputies while riding to the station for booking, according to a police report.
The evening’s events
Van Buskirk told deputies he had gone to play a video game in the couple’s bedroom because his children had been acting up all night and he “finally had enough,” according to the report.
When his children allegedly started fighting again, this time in his bedroom, Van Buskirk told them both to leave and to take the bowl of popcorn with them.
This reportedly made his daughter cry.
When Van Buskirk’s wife saw her daughter crying, she grabbed the popcorn bowl and threw it at Van Buskirk, hitting him in the chest.
Van Buskirk told deputies he threw the bowl back at her and told her not to throw anything at him.
Accounts of what happened next vary.
Van Buskirk’s wife says he lost it and started hitting her in the back of the head. When their daughter came in to protect her, Van Buskirk pushed her to the floor.
Van Buskirk said while he did push his wife out of the room, he never punched or stuck anyone. If he had hit her, deputies would have clearly found bruises on her.
Initially deputies didn’t notice bruises on Van Buskirk’s wife and she refused medical attention. They also found nothing in the home indicating a struggle had occurred.
Although one deputy noted the home was cluttered with clothing and other stuff, “as if in a hoarder type of fashion, but there were no broken items or any other indications of a struggle or assault.”
With no clear evidence of a domestic assault and his wife refusing to file charges, deputies separated the pair and left for the night.
Later, Van Buskirk’s wife changed her mind.
She went to the hospital and complained of pain in her hand and hip where she said her husband had hit her.
A physician’s assistant later told a deputy that the children told her that “my daddy was punching my mommy and my sister stood up to him and they called 911.”
The assistant noted that Van Buskirk had bruising on her hand and hip and scratch marks on her back.
“Patient stated she is afraid her husband may harm her again worse than today if she files charges,” the assistant said.
Van Buskirk’s wife told deputies that he had verbally abused her since they met and was mean and abusive to their children.
The children told deputies that they were scared of their dad.
For his part, Van Buskirk denied hitting anyone.
“He is done with their marriage and this is probably just (wife’s name redacted) way of getting out of their marriage without blame,” Van Buskirk reportedly told a deputy.