UPDATE: Suspect surrenders, charges pending

From the Virginia State Police:

State and local law enforcement continue their search efforts Tuesday night (Jan. 19, 2010) in Appomattox County for a gunman responsible for killing eight people earlier in the day. More than 100 deputies, officers and state troopers will continue working through the night to locate and apprehend the armed subject.

The incident began at 12:02 p.m. Tuesday when the Appomattox County Sheriff’s Office received a 9-1-1 call about a male subject lying in the middle of Route 703/Snapps Mill Road and in need of medical assistance. When the deputy sheriff arrived in the 3000 block of Snapps Mill Road, he heard gunfire in the immediate area. The male subject was transported by Med-Flight State Police helicopter to Lynchburg General Hospital, where the man later died.

As additional units responded, a search perimeter was set up in a wooded area within the vicinity of Snapps Mill Road and Route 613/Police Tower Road. Further investigation by law enforcement yielded the discovery of four additional bodies outside a nearby residence and three bodies inside the residence. Among the deceased are males and females. One residence near the search perimeter has been evacuated as a precautionary measure.

A possible suspect has been identified as Christopher B. Speight [rhymes with SPITE], 39, of Appomattox, Va. Authorities are also trying to locate two vehicles that belong to Speight. One is a tan 1997 Ford Escort LX. The second vehicle is a green 1996 Ford F-150 pickup truck. Anyone with information pertaining to Speight or these vehicles is encouraged to call the Virginia State Police Appomattox Division at 434-352-3419 or the Appomattox County Sheriff’s Office at 434-352-8251. Anonymous calls are welcome.

During the course of the search Tuesday afternoon, a State Police helicopter was shot by the suspect. The helicopter was struck at least four times. The Trooper-Pilot was able to make an emergency landing in a field near the scene.

Resources from the Appomattox County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police, Campbell County Sheriff’s Office, Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, Prince Edward County Sheriff’s Office, Farmville Police, Bedford County Sheriff’s Office, Amherst County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia Game and Inland Fisheries Conservation Police, Virginia National Guard and ATF are on scene and coordinating search and investigative efforts. No law enforcement personnel have been injured during the course.

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