Suspect in Virginia shootings surrenders to police

By Calvin Palmer

Police in Virginia today arrested a man suspected of shooting and killing eight people.

Christopher Speight, 39, surrendered without incident to police after being cornered in woods west of the historic town of Appomattox, police said.

A massive manhunt was launched after seven bodies were discovered at a rural home yesterday and another victim nearby.

Speight fled to woodland and fired four shots at a helicopter called in to help with the search. The helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing.

The manhunt began when police responded to around noon yesterday to a call from neighbor about a man lying injured on a country road.

“I figured the person might be drunk because we always hear partying over there,” said Tammy Lee Randolph, 29, who lives on a farm adjacent to Speight’s.

Randolph said she found a man lying face down on the pavement around noon, his grey hoodie covered in blood but he was still breathing. She called 911, and after a sheriff’s deputy arrived, they turned their attention to Speight’s driveway and discovered what appeared to be a teenager’s body wearing blue jeans, brown boots and a blue sweatshirt near a red Jetta.

The injured man was transported to Lynchburg General Hospital where he later died.

Officers eventually found four bodies outside Speight’s home and “three bodies inside the residence”.

The victims were both male and female. Initially, police did not give a motive for the shootings but later said they were believed to be the result of a family argument.

Police said Speight, a co-owner of the property, “was acquainted” with all the victims but would not discuss the nature of those relationships.

Neighbors said at least five people lived in the home. Authorities have not released the identities of the victims as they work to notify family members.

Speight has not yet been charged and is being interviewed about the incident. He could face a capital murder charge if he is linked to more than one killing.

Police called in the bomb squad this morning to search the property on Snapps Mill Road in the belief that it may have been rigged with explosives.

[Based on reports by the AFP and The Washington Post.]

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