- Associated Press - Sunday, February 13, 2011

MADISON, Va. (AP) — Authorities in central Virginia are investigating the apparent shooting deaths of three family members at a home, reports say.

The Culpeper Star-Exponent reported that Madison County Sheriff Erik Weaver said deputies found three bodies Saturday morning at a home in that county.

Sheriff Weaver told WVIR-TV that his office received a call shortly before 9:30 a.m. Saturday, and officers subsequently found a man lying in the yard on Forest Drive.

“Deputies responded to a call of an unresponsive male on the south end of Madison County,” the sheriff’s office said in a brief news release on which it declined to elaborate early Sunday. “As a result of what was found, sheriff’s personnel along with Virginia State Police remain at that location on the investigation. More information will be forthcoming as the investigation continues.”

Sheriff Weaver did not return calls from the Associated Press seeking comment Saturday night and Sunday morning.

WVIR-TV reported that a relative who had gone to the scene, Robert Anthony, said he received a call Saturday informing him that relatives had been killed. He said he went to console family members.

“This is a terrible tragedy,” the man told the TV station. “A husband and wife and one of the children have left us, and we don’t have all of the pieces to the puzzle.”

“This is my family; this is part of my family,” Mr. Anthony said.

Television showed images of somber people gathered and hugging one another in a rural clearing.

Both news outlets reported that state police dispatchers said they were searching for a 23-year-old man in connection with the shootings. A state police dispatcher, contacted by AP, said early Sunday she couldn’t confirm that report and had no further information.

The Madison County seat is about 90 miles southwest of Washington.