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Manhunt on in killings of 8 in Virginia

  • Police search for man, 39, in the shooting deaths of eight people in central Virginia
  • Seven victims killed in and around a home in Appomattox; eighth found in middle of road
  • Police say suspect shot and hit helicopter, which made emergency landing
  • The accused gunman identified as Christopher Speight; no motive for slayings established

(CNN) -- Police searched into the early hours of Wednesday for a 39-year-old gunman wanted in the deaths of eight people in rural central Virginia.

"More than 100 deputies, officers and state troopers will continue working through the night to locate and apprehend the armed subject," said a statement from Virginia State Police.

Seven of the victims were killed in and around a home in Appomattox, about 75 miles southwest of Richmond, and the eighth was found in the middle of a road, according to Tom Molinar of the State Police. Males and females were killed, but authorities did not provide their ages.

A motive for the shootings was not immediately known.

The accused gunman was identified as Christopher Speight. Authorities think he was acting alone, Molinar said.

"He is considered armed and dangerous," he added.

Police established a perimeter around Appomattox, Molinar said, and think Speight remains within their search area. The manhunt includes canine units and helicopters.

Local coverage from CNN affiliate WTVR

"During the course of the search Tuesday afternoon, a State Police helicopter was shot by the suspect," the State Police statement said. "The helicopter was struck at least four times" and "was able to make an emergency landing in a field near the scene."

Authorities are searching for two vehicles belonging to Speight -- a green 1996 Ford F-150 pickup and a tan 1997 Ford Escort. Anyone with information is asked to contact authorities.

The case began unfolding with a 911 call that reported a man lying in the middle of Route 703.

"The male subject was transported by Med-Flight State Police helicopter to Lynchburg General Hospital, where the man later died," State Police said.

On arrival, police heard gunshots in the area. A search turned up seven bodies nearby.