Languages
Page last updated at 08:58 GMT, Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Virginia gunman kills eight and shoots down helicopter

Advertisement

Police say they believe the suspect is in the sealed-off area

Police have surrounded a lone gunman who shot and killed eight people in the US state of Virginia.

At one point, a police helicopter was fired on by the man and forced to land with a ruptured fuel tank.

All the dead were adults - men and women. Seven bodies were discovered at one home, while an eighth victim found on a road died on the way to hospital.

Officers say they have surrounded a suspect in woodland just outside the central town of Appomattox.

map

Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said: "We know he's armed, we know he's dangerous, we know he's already shot at a state police helicopter, and actually struck it several times.

"Fortunately it was able to make a safe emergency landing... Unfortunately though this individual is responsible for a total of eight deaths at this time."

'Lock your doors'

The drama began when the authorities received a call about one of the victims lying in the middle of a road, in need of medical assistance.

When a deputy arrived at the scene, he heard gunfire and called for back up.

Police said at a media briefing that officers from across the state had been brought in to the area.

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

"We have him [the gunman] contained, we're fairly sure of that," they said.

Suspected gunman Christopher Speight
Virginia State Police issued this photo of the suspect, Christopher Speight

It is not known what prompted the shootings, but Virginia State Police identified the suspect as Christopher Speight, 39.

The Washington Post quoted local officials as saying two of the dead were believed to be his wife and son.

A number of people living in the sealed-off wooded area have been evacuated.

Bethel Hawkins - who lives about two miles (3km) from where the shootings happened - told the Associated Press news agency police had warned families to lock their doors.

"We're just being cautious, keeping our doors locked, not going outside," she said.

Appomattox is about 160km (100 miles) south-west of Virginia's capital Richmond.


Are you in Virginia? Have you been affected by the incidents today? Send us your comments, pictures and video.

Send your pictures and video to yourpics@bbc.co.uk or text them to +44 7725 100 100. If you have a large file you can upload here.

At no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws.

Read the terms and conditions

Name
Your E-mail address
Town & Country
Phone number (optional):
Comments

The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.




Print Sponsor


RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific