APPOMATTOX, Va. — A lone shooter killed eight people Tuesday in central Virginia, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press, and police circled a wooded area where they believed the suspect was hiding.
State police said there were also multiple injuries, all the work of a single shooter, but they could not say what prompted the burst of violence
The official who gave the number of dead asked for anonymity because that person was not authorized to speak about the investigation.
The drama paralyzed the rural area as police swarmed forests trying to flush out the suspect who, at one point in the manhunt, fired at a state police helicopter, forcing it to land with a ruptured fuel tank. No police were injured after one or more rounds struck the helicopter.
Canine units and a National Guard helicopter with thermal imaging equipment were being used to search the woods late Tuesday.
“They are searching the area and will continue until the suspect is apprehended,” State Police Sgt. Thomas Molnar said.
The violence began shortly after noon when an injured man was found on a rural stretch of road.
A deputy who went to investigate fled after he heard gunshots, said police spokeswoman Corrine Geller.
“When the deputy arrived on the scene, that’s when he heard several shots,” Molnar said.
He said there were “several fatalities.” Police were still trying to determine the suspect’s relationship with the victims.
Authorities told residents to stay inside and a small Christian school was locked down until state police could escort about 60 children from the building.
Appomattox is in a county of about 15,000 approximately 160 km southwest of Richmond. It’s where Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered his army in 1865 to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant to end the Civil War.