Eight shot dead in central Virginia

Associated Press / January 20, 2010

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APPOMATTOX, Va. - A lone shooter killed eight people in central Virginia, with seven bodies found at one home, police said yesterday.

State Police said officers had the suspect, Christopher Speight, 39, surrounded in the woods late yesterday near the home and they believed he was still alive. The eighth shooting victim was found on the side of the road and died on the way to the hospital, police said. All the victims were adults and both men and women were killed, State Police Sergeant Thomas Molnar said.

Police refused to speculate on a motive and would not say what type of weapon was used. Molnar also gave no background on the suspect.

The drama paralyzed the rural area as police swarmed forests trying to flush out the suspect who, at one point in the manhunt, fired at a State Police helicopter, forcing it to land with a ruptured fuel tank. No police were injured after one or more rounds struck the helicopter.

Canine units and a National Guard helicopter with thermal imaging equipment were being used to search the woods.

“They are searching the area and will continue until the suspect is apprehended,’’ Molnar said.