x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Suspect in Virginia mass killing surrenders

A man suspected of shooting eight people to death at a rural Virginia home and then firing at a police helicopter has surrendered.

VIRGINIA // A man suspected of shooting eight people to death at a rural Virginia home and then firing at a police helicopter surrendered early today after an overnight manhunt, Virginia State Police said. Sgt Thomas Molnar said 39-year-old Christopher Speight approached officers at the scene of the shootings and turned himself in at about 7.10am. Speight was being taken to an undisclosed location to be interviewed, Sgt Molnar said. Charges were pending. Authorities said Mr Speight was acquainted with the victims, but details of the relationships were not released. Police were still working to positively identify the victims and notify their families. Sgt Molnar did not know whether Mr Speight was armed when he surrendered. Mr Speight's last known address was along the block where the shootings happened, but Sgt Molnar would not say whether the shootings happened at that address or another house. The drama began around noon yesterday when a man was spotted barely alive along the side of a narrow country road. The man died on the way to hospital. A deputy who answered the emergency call heard more gunshots, and seven other men and women were found dead inside and outside a nearby home. Police surrounded a stretch of heavily wooded terrain overnight. As teams tried to flush out the gunman, he fired at a police helicopter and hit a fuel tank, forcing it to land. No police were injured. Sheriff Wilson Staples said investigators believe Speight had weapons training based on the weapons found in his home, but he declined to elaborate. The search had paralysed the rural area near Appomattox, best known as the place where Confederate Gen Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union Gen Ulysses S Grant in 1865 to end the US Civil War. Four nearby schools serving about 2,000 students had planned to stay closed for the day before Mr Speight surrendered.

* AP