"When the deputy arrived on scene, he heard several gun shots and he in turn contacted his dispatch centre and they dispatched several more of their deputies to the scene along with contacting the Virginia state police for assistance," Thomas Molnar, a spokesman for the Virginia State police, said.

"They are searching the area and will continue until the suspect is apprehended,'' he said.

"There is just one male suspect."

Police have not suggested a motive for the attack, given details of the dead or made comments about the suspect's background. 

Residents of the area where the attack took place were warned to remain indoors and more than 150 law enforcement officers were reportedly involved in the search.

"The perimeter has been established and we believe the suspect is within the quarantined area," Molnar said.