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Terrorism & Security

Virginia shooting suspect surrenders after all-night police chase

The Virginia gunman allegedly killed eight in Appomattox before fleeing to the woods and later turning himself in. It's the region's deadliest shooting since the 2007 Virginia Tech rampage.

By / January 20, 2010

Virginia State Police Officer Butch McMurray has a member of media show ID as he directs traffic on Virginia 613 in Appomattox County, Va., on Tuesday night.

Nick Adams/The News & Advance/AP

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The lone gunman who allegedly killed eight people Tuesday before firing at police in Appomattox County, Va., surrendered Wednesday morning after an all-night police chase through the woods near the suspect's home.

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The day after the shooting that a spokesman for Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell called a “horrific tragedy,” state police waited for daylight to try to flush him out from the woods, reports The News & Advance, a Lynchburg, Va., newspaper.

[State Police spokesperson Corinne Geller] said the perimeter was manned vigilantly during the evening, but because of officer safety concerns, the state, local and federal officials were conservative in their approach.

Officials closed all schools in the area and evacuated some families from their homes as police warned them that the gunman was considered armed and dangerous.

Authorities say that Christopher B. Speight killed eight people Tuesday, including his wife and son, in what was apparently his home in the rural area near historic Appomattox, reports The News & Advance. (Click here for a map of the region from Agence France-Presse.)

At about noon Tuesday, emergency officials received a call about a man lying wounded in a street, and heard gunshots when they arrived at the location. That man apparently died after he was taken to a hospital. Four more bodies were found outside a nearby home, and three inside.

Police surrounded Mr. Speight in a wooded area roughly two miles wide and 1,000 yards long near the home, according to the newspaper. Police believed Speight was armed with a high-powered rifle and are still searching for two of his vehicles.

The Associated Press reports that canine units and a National Guard helicopter with thermal imaging capability were being used to search the woods.

The Washington Post reports that as the search for the suspect began with more than 100 law enforcement officials Tuesday, Speight apparently fired at least four shots at a State Police helicopter, disabling it and forcing it to make an emergency landing. The shooting is thought to have been sparked by a domestic dispute, reports the Post, unlike the Nov. 5, 2009, rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, that was thought to have political motivations and killed 13.

The shootings were thought to be the deadliest such incident in the region since 33 people were killed at Virginia Tech in 2007.

After a gunman killed 13 in an immigration services center in Binghamton, NY, in April 2009, the Associated Press compiled this list of major deadly shootings in America since 1966.

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