Taxi driver kills 12, wounds 25 in England

Derrick Bird's rampage is the deadliest mass shooting in Britain since 1996

Published June 2, 2010 5:26PM (EDT)

A taxi driver went on a shooting spree across a rural area of northwestern England on Wednesday, police said, killing 12 people and wounding 25 others before turning the gun on himself.

The rampage in Cumbria was the deadliest mass shooting since 1996 in Britain, where gun ownership is tightly restricted and handguns are banned.

The deadly spree "has shocked the people of Cumbria and around the country to the core," Deputy Chief Constable Stuart Hyde said.

Officers found Bird's body in woods near the Lake District village of Boot. Hyde said two weapons were recovered from the scene.

The shootings occurred in the town of Whitehaven and nearby Seascale and Egremont, about 350 miles (560 kilometers) northwest of London. The area is popular with hikers and vacationers.

Health service spokesman Nigel Calvert said three of the injured were in a critical condition in the hospital.

Hyde said there were 30 separate crime scenes. Witnesses described seeing the gunman driving around shooting out the window of his car. His victims included a woman on a bicycle, a farmer in his field and at least two fellow taxi drivers.

Barrie Walker, a doctor in Seascale who certified one of the deaths, told the BBC that victims had been shot in the face, apparently with a shotgun.

Witness Alan Hannah told the Whitehaven News that he saw a man with a shotgun in a car near a taxi stand in Whitehaven. Photos showed a body, covered in a sheet, lying in a street in the town.

"This kind of thing doesn't happen in our part of the world," local lawmaker Jamie Reed told the BBC. "We have got one of the lowest, if not the lowest, crime rates in the country."

Multiple shootings in Britain are rare. In 1987, gun enthusiast Michael Ryan killed 16 people in the English town of Hungerford. In 1996, Thomas Hamilton killed 16 children and a teacher at a kindergarten in Dunblane, Scotland.

Glenda Pears, who runs L&G Taxis in Whitehaven, said one of the victims was another taxi driver who was a friend of Bird's.

"They used to stand together having a (laugh) on the rank," she said. "He was friends with everybody and used to stand and joke on Duke Street."

Sue Matthews, who works at A2B Taxis in Whitehaven, said Bird was self-employed, quiet and lived alone.

"I would say he was fairly popular. I would see him once a week out and about. He was known as 'Birdy,'" she said.

"I can't believe he would do that -- he was a quiet little fellow."


Associated Press Writers Jill Lawless and Andrew Khouri in London contributed to this report.

By Scott Heppell

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