#1
At least five people are dead - but possibly as many as 10 according to some reports - and 25 injured after a gunman went on a shooting spree in Cumbria, the most beautiful of England's counties.

The normally peaceful rural county - the home of the Lake District which inspired William Wordsworth - saw the suspect, believed to have been a taxi driver, go on the shooting spree with a shotgun in 11 different locations before shooting himself dead. His body was discovered in woodland near the village of Boot.

It is believed that the gunman, Derrick Bird, 52, deliberately targeted three of his colleagues after arguing with them last night. One of the dead was killed at the taxi rank in the centre of the coastal town of Whitehaven, whilst two are believed to have been killed in nearby Seascale. The gunman may also have killed his own mother at her home in Rowrah. Eyewitnesses also reported seeing a body in Egremont.

Two of the dead are believed to be taxi drivers, including the Whitehaven victim, and one is believed to have been a young farmer who was trimming hedges with his uncle in Gosforth when Bird drove past and shot him.

Many of the 25 injured had gunshots wounds to the face.

The normally peaceful and sedate Cumbria is so unused to shootings that when the Whitehaven victim was shot locals thought it was a car backfiring, and when the young farmer was shot neighbours assumed he was just shooting crows in his fields.

Cumbria Constabulary are one of Britain's smallest police forces, and so have drafted in help from other counties.

Prime Minister David Cameron told the Commons that he pledged to do everything possible to help communities 'shattered' by the killing spree.

He said: 'The Chief Constable of Cumbria is working closely with other forces and other emergency services to ensure a coordinated response to these rapidly moving events.

'The Government will do everything it possibly can to help the local community and those affected and to keep the House informed.'

Unlike in America and other countries, shooting sprees are relatively rare in Britain, a country which has very strict gun control. The UK's last major shooting spree occurred in March 1996 when former Scout leader Thomas Hamilton entered the gymnasium at Dunblane Primary School in Scotland and opened fire on a class of five and six-year-olds, killing 16 children and their teacher. That incident made handguns illegal. The gunman in today's spree used a shotgun.

And in August 1987, loner and gun fanatic Michael Ryan went on a shooting rampage in Hungerford, Berkshire. Armed with an automatic rifle, a pistol and at least one hand grenade he shot 16 people dead, including his mother, before killing himself.

Five dead and 25 wounded in Lake District massacre: Cabbie, 52, 'even kills his own mother' then shoots himself

By Liz Hazelton
2nd June 2010
Daily Mail
  • At least five dead, 25 wounded after horrific shooting spree
  • Cab driver suspect Derrick Bird commits suicide in woodland
  • Witnesses describe gunman shooting victims in head
  • One of the dead believed to be Bird's mother
  • Gunman had rowed with three colleagues last night


Police today found the body of a gunman who shot dead at least five people after going on a bloody rampage in the Lake District.

Derrick Bird, a divorced father-of-two, was discovered in woodland near Boot, Cumbria, by police. The 52-year-old had shot himself.

Witnesses today described horrific scenes as the cab driver shot his victims in the head at point blank range and gunned down others through the shattered windscreen of his car.

It is understood he deliberately targeted three of his colleagues after arguing with them last night. Another of the dead is believed to be his own mother.


Police stand near the covered body of a person shot dead by a gunman in Whitehaven, Cumbria, today


Cordoned off: Police had warned people to stay inside after the shootings this morning. A body can be seen to the right of the picture in front of the police car

There were reports of shootings at 11 different locations. One person was killed at a taxi rank in the centre of Whitehaven, while two others are understood to have been shot dead in the nearby town of Seascale. There were reports that a farmer had been killed in a field.

Local landlord Rod Davies said he understood the gunman had returned to his home-town of Rowrah to kill his mother.

'The guy flipped for whatever reason. Whether it was pre-meditated, we don't know,' he said.

'We've heard he returned home and shot his mother. Then he has gone on a spree to Seascale, where he's believed to have caused two fatalities.


Derrick Bird, 52, was found in woodland near Boot, Cumbria, by police. He had shot himself

'He then left Seascale and went through Gosforth where he's believed to have killed a local farmer, and shot him at point-blank range.

'He's then headed to the valley where Boot is.'

A Whitehaven cab driver said he understood a total of three taxi drivers had been shot, two fatally.

The man, who did not want to be named, claimed an argument broke out between Bird and the other three men last night at the Duke Street taxi rank.

He said: 'All of the taxi drivers were friends. But I heard last night there was an argument on the taxi rank.

'I don't know what caused it, but something must have happened last night. Bird took off in his car and went home. I don't know what time of night it was.'

Bird fled in a Citroen Picasso. The car was later found abandoned in Boot. Armed officers discovered his body a short time later.

But though the hunt for the gunman was over, the community has been shattered by the horrific events of the past few hours.

A favourite haunt of holidaymakers, the Lake District is one of the most beautiful parts of the country with one of the smallest police forces.

Today David Cameron pledged to do everything possible to help communities 'shattered' by the killing spree.

Updating the Commons at the start of Prime Minister's Questions, he said: 'The Chief Constable of Cumbria is working closely with other forces and other emergency services to ensure a coordinated response to these rapidly moving events.

'The Government will do everything it possibly can to help the local community and those affected and to keep the House informed.'

Bird himself, a divorcee known as Birdy, had appeared to be a quiet man to those who knew him. There was no hint that he could carry out such deadly actions.

A local post-mistress, who has known the suspect for many years, described him as a 'quiet man' who was a 'very difficult man to drag a conversation out of'.

Muriel Gilpin, 60, postmistress of Arlecdon Post Office, told Mail Online: 'Everybody knows everybody here. That is why everybody is in shock.

'He comes into the post office for milk sometimes. He's a cab driver. Derrick became a grandfather over a fortnight ago. I think he lives by himself.


Peaceful: The town of Whitehaven, in Cumbria, has been shattered by the shootings


Horror: Another victim lies on a footpath in the village of Egremont near Whitehaven

HOW THE SHOOTING DRAMA UNFOLDED

10.35am: Police called to Duke Street in Whitehaven after shots are fired

10.40am: Officers urge people living in Whitehaven, Egremont and Seascale to stay indoors

12.18pm: Police confirm 'a number of people' have been injured in a series of shootings

12.41pm: Police name the suspect as Derrick Bird, 52, from Rowrah, near Frizington

13.04pm: Reports of at least four people dead as police reveal that Bird had abandoned his car. It's now been reported that at least five are dead.

14.03pm: Police say a body, believed to be that of Bird, has been found in a wood near Boot.

'When they said it was a cab driver, I thought someone had shot Derrick. He comes from a nice family. He married a local girl. I think they divorced more than 20 years ago.

'I have no idea where it has come from.'

She said Post Office managers had ordered her to shut up the shop when news of the killings broke.

Mrs Gilpin added: 'The paper delivery man said he'd seen Derrick this morning getting into his car.'

Bird, from Rowrah, near Frizington, is believed to have two sons. He has a number of brothers.

Witnesses described chaotic scenes as they dived for cover after hearing shots being fired. They said they spotted a man sitting in a car with a smashed windscreen wielding a shotgun.

He is believed to have been taking pot-shots at anyone who approached him at the taxi rank.

Resident Theresa Bagshaw said: 'There's talk in the town that one person was shot in the face three times.

'It's absolutely awful. I've never ever heard of anything like this or a gunman on the loose before.'


Crimes of this nature rarely occur in the beautiful Lake District

Brian Edwards, a 67-year-old joiner came face-to-face with the gunman in Whitehaven.

'I heard a bang and thought at first it might be the cannon that they fire at the docks - but it was too early,' he said.

'There were four shots and I looked round to see the taxi driver lying on the pavement.

'Seconds before he had been standing in a doorway having a cigarette just ten feet away from us - he was just blasted in the head by the gunman at point-blank range.

'He was in a terrible state and I didn't think he could still be alive.

'Then a man carrying a rifle with a large telescopic sight on it ran past just feet away and fired again.

'A second driver was shot but apparently he is not too badly injured.

The gunman didn't say anything.'

The victims

Some local reports are putting the number of shootings as high as 10.

The taxi driver is thought to have begun his attacks in the middle of Whitehaven, where he apparently murdered a colleague.

He then drove through the Lake District, shooting at other victims, seemingly at random.

Police said the gunman fled south along the coast of Cumbria, going through Gosforth and Seascale before turning inland and ending up in Boot, 20 miles from Whitehaven.

A young farmer, believed to be in his early thirties, was shot dead in Gosforth. The victim was reportedly in a field trimming hedges with his uncle when Bird apparently drove past, wound down a car window and blasted him.

Two people were killed in Seascale, where local GPs were called to the scene, according to Sky sources.

There was also a shooting in the Egremont area, where eyewitnesses reported seeing a body.

And there are unconfirmed reports that the gunman shot his mother.

Helen Owens, who works at solicitors' practice Brockbank, Cain and Hall on Duke Street in Whitehaven, said one of her colleagues saw a dead man on the street.

She said: 'We heard a couple of gunshots and the police running about. One of our secretaries was out at the time and she saw a guy lying dead on the ground covered with a sheet - she saw his trainers sticking out.'

Speaking this afternoon, Deputy Chief Constable Stuart Hyde said: 'I can confirm that we've found a body in a wooded area near Boot which we believe to be Mr Bird, together with a firearm.

'A formal identification will be made later.'

Labour MP James Reed said: 'It's an absolute heartbreaking tragedy for the families involved. I am born and raised in Whitehaven and here with my wife and children.

'I have never heard of anything like this in the history of the town. It is just a paralysing shock to us all. These kinds of things don't happen here.

'There is no real history of violent crime in the area. It is a fantastic, really strong community. People do look out for each other.

'The community ties are very, very strong. I am struggling to understand how this happened. It's staggering and it's very, very hard to take in. The whole area is literally stunned at the moment.'

BLASTED IN THE HEAD AT POINT BLANK RANGE: WITNESSES DESCRIBE HORROR OF LAKE DISTRICT SHOOTINGS

GLENDA PEARS, who runs L&G Taxis, said both Bird and the Duke Street victim were self-employed drivers - and friends.

She said Bird had been a taxi driver for 23 years and was divorced with two sons. She described him as a 'real nice man'.

She said: 'We just don't know what's happened. The lad that's been killed was friends with him. They used to stand together having a craic on the rank.

'He was friends with everybody and used to stand and joke on Duke Street.'



She said a female taxi driver working for her had to swerve to avoid Mr Bird's car immediately after the first shooting.

She said: 'He was driving and she saw the gun. She was hysterical and had to pull over and stop. The gun was hanging out of the window.

'We are just numb at the moment. We just want to know what he's done it for. He's such a nice lad.

'One of my drivers was talking to him last night. He was just working as normal and was going to go to Tesco's to get chicken.'

DEBRA CUNNINGHAM, co-owner of White Line Taxis, said one of her drivers and his passenger had been shot.

She said the driver had been shot on Coach Road along with his passenger and taken to hospital.

She said: 'I spoke to Terry this morning over the radio when he came on shift.

'All I have heard since from the police is that he and his passenger were shot on Coach Road and have been taken to hospital.

'I don't know how they are doing. I am very worried.'

THERESA BAGSHAW, of Whitehaven, said: 'There's talk in the town that one person was shot in the face three times.

'It's absolutely awful. I've never ever heard of anything like this or a gunman on the loose before.'

A member of staff from Strandz 9 on Duke Street said: 'We heard a loud bang and one of our customers came running in to say that someone had been shot.

'We went outside to find out what was going on and there was lots of police and the road was in the process of being blocked.

'We saw a body lying on the floor, it was a taxi driver and he was dead. He had been shot in the head.'

BRIAN EDWARDS described how he came face-to-face with the gunman in the centre of Whitehaven.

Mr Edwards, 67. a joiner was working on flats above a pet shop in Duke Street and was outside collecting tools from his van when he realised something was wrong.

'I heard a bang and thought at first it might be the cannon that they fire at the docks - but it was too early,' he said.

'There were four shots and I looked round to see the taxi driver lying on the pavement.

'Seconds before he had been standing in a doorway having a cigarette just ten feet away from us - he was just blasted in the head by the gunman at point-blank range.

'He was in a terrible state and I didn't think he could still be alive.

'Then a man carrying a rifle with a large telescopic sight on it ran past just feet away and fired again.

'A second driver was shot but apparently he is not too badly injured.

The gunman didn't say anything.'

ALAN HANNAH, 68, said: 'As I turned past the police station, I saw all these officers running out and realised something major was going on so I moved over to the right-hand lane.

'Then a car pulled up on the left, stopping at the lights.

'I saw a man with a large shotgun and his windscreen was smashed.

'I drove through the red light to get into Lowther Street and get out of the way. I got home safely but was very shaken.'

HELEN OWENS, who works at solicitors' practice Brockbank, Cain and Hall on Duke Street in Whitehaven, said one of her colleagues saw a dead man on the street.

She said: 'We heard a couple of gunshots and the police running about.

'One of our secretaries was out at the time and she saw a guy lying dead on the ground covered with a sheet - she saw his trainers sticking out.

'There's police tape across it so we can't see exactly what happened but saw a policeman running across the street.

'We have also heard there was another shooting at Morrisons car park, which is about five minutes away.'

Top 10 countries with most murders by firearms (per 1,000 people)

1) South Africa: 0.719782
2) Colombia: 0.509801
3) Thailand: 0.312093
4) Zimbabwe: 0.0491736
5) Mexico: 0.0337938
6) Belarus: 0.0321359
7) Costa Rica: 0.0313745
8 ) United States: 0.0279271
9) Uruguay: 0.0245902
10) Lithuania: 0.0230748

Others:
20) Canada: 0.00502972
21) Germany: 0.00465844
26) Republic of Ireland: 0.00298805
32) UK: 0.00102579

Source: United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems

Lake District shootings: Killings bring back horrific memories of Hungerford and Dunblane

Today's killings in the Lake District bring back horrific memories of the massacres in Hungerford and Dunblane.

It was on August 19 1987 that loner and gun fanatic Michael Ryan went on a shooting rampage in Hungerford, a market town in Berkshire.

Armed with an automatic rifle, a pistol and at least one hand grenade he shot 16 people dead, including his mother, before killing himself.


Hungerford Massacre: Gunman Michael Ryan killed 16 people in the Berkshire town on August 19 1987

His victims included a police officer who tried to tackle him. At least another 15 people were also injured.

His first victim was a woman who was picnicking with her two children in Savernake Forest, 10 miles from the Berkshire town.

Less than 10 minutes later, firefighters were called to a house in Hungerford where they found the body of Ryan's mother.

Ryan, dressed in combat gear, then made his way, shooting at people as he went on foot, to the town's main shopping area where he indiscriminately shot and killed 12 people.

He then managed to evade a massive manhunt by armed police and helicopters until he was tracked down to the empty John O'Gaunt Community Technology College where he barricaded himself in.

Negotiators made contact with Ryan after he had fired at circling helicopters.

At one point Ryan waved an unpinned grenade at police through a window.


Dunblane shooting: Mourners lay flowers outside the school in Dunblane, Perthshire where Thomas Hamilton shot 16 children and their teacher dead before turning the gun on himself on March 13 1996

He is reported to have told negotiators: 'Hungerford must be a bit of a mess. I wish I had stayed in bed.'

The body of the 27-year-old, who had shot himself, was later found inside.

Ryan was described by the press as a gun fanatic who had an 'unhealthy' relationship with his mother.

The incident led to tighter restrictions on gun ownership with the introduction of the Firearms (Amendment) Act of 1988 but critics said the legislation did not go far enough.

On March 13 1996, former Scout leader Thomas Hamilton entered the gymnasium at Dunblane Primary School in Scotland and opened fire on a class of five and six-year-olds, killing 16 children and their teacher.

In a shooting spree which lasted less than three minutes, Hamilton, who was armed with two pistols and two revolvers, fired a total of 109 rounds.

A public inquiry into the Dunblane massacre found that Hamilton, a former shopkeeper, had been investigated by police following complaints about his behaviour towards young boys.

The incident led to further tightening of gun controls with a ban on owning handguns.

dailymail.co.uk
Last edited by Blackleaf; Jun 2nd, 2010 at 11:31 AM..