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Police: Suspect In 8 Va. Slayings Surrenders

by The Associated Press via NPR

January 20, 2010

Virginia State Police say a suspect in the shooting deaths of eight people at a rural home has surrendered without incident.

Sgt. Thomas Molnar says 39-year-old Christopher Speight (Spite) approached officers at the crime scene at about 7:10 a.m. Wednesday and turned himself in.

Molnar says Speight was being taken to an undisclosed location to be interviewed. Charges are pending.

Schools were shutdown in a rural Virginia county as police searched for the suspect Wednesday who they believe killed eight people at a nearby home and forced down a police helicopter after shooting its fuel tank.

The drama began around noon Tuesday when a victim was spotted barely alive along the side of a narrow, undivided country road.

A deputy who answered the emergency call heard more gunshots and soon the area just about 3 miles from the state police district headquarters was filled with law enforcement from all over, with more than 100 responding. The injured man died on the way to the hospital, said state police Sgt. Thomas Molnar.

Earlier, as teams tried to catch the gunman, he fired at the helicopter trying to flush him out, police said. One or more rounds struck the helicopter, forcing it down, but no police were injured.

Police refused to speculate on a motive. Molnar gave no background on the suspect, saying not much was known about him. Speight’s last known address was along the block lined with modest ranch and Cape Cod-style homes where the shootings occurred, but Molnar did not know if the suspect was still living there.

Police did not release the victims’ names or the suspect’s possible relationship to them. All the victims were adults and both men and women were killed, Molnar said.

He would not say if all the victims were shot at the home where most of the bodies were found. He also would not say whether the shootings happened at Speight’s address or another house.

Speight was not listed as an offender on the Virginia Department of Corrections Web site and a search for his name on the Appomattox County courts site came up with no matches.

Appomattox is in a county of about 15,000, best known as the place where Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant to end the Civil War.

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