Cumbria shootings: several dead, gunman's body found
Updated on 02 June 2010
A number of people have been killed and up to 25 injured after a gunman opened fire in West Cumbria. Police believe they have found the body of Derrick Bird, suspected of carrying out the shootings. Someone who knew him has told Channel 4 News Bird may have been acquainted with at least four of those he shot.
Cumbria police say they have found the body of Derrick Bird, 52, in woods in the Lake District. A gun was found alongside the body, and it is believed Bird shot himself.
It is understood Derrick Bird was a local taxi driver.
Police have confirmed there are a number of fatalities - initial indications suggest at least five people have died. They say they are dealing with 11 crime scenes.
Channel 4 News believes that there are at least 25 people who have been injured in the shootings.
Channel 4 News has spoken to Peter Leder, who had been with Bird last night. Mr Leder said he thought the suspected gunman had known at least four of the people he shot.
Cumbria police this afternoon issued a statement confirming that Derrick Bird's mother had not been shot, as had been reported in some sections of the media, and that she was being supported by her family.
The first shooting is understood to have taken place in Duke Street at 10.35am. Police were initially called after shots were fired there.
Members of the public in Whitehaven and Egremont have been urged to stay indoors until further notice.
A police statement issued at 12:35 said: "We can confirm that a number of people have been injured after shots were fired in the Whitehaven, Seascale and Egremont areas this morning.
"There are a number of fatalities and police are working to identify the individuals and inform relatives. Ambulance crews are in attendance across the area."
West Cumbria shootings
- Cumbria police: latest information
- Police helpline number: 0800 0960095
The statement continues: "Police who are in pursuit of him are urging members of the public in the Boot area to shelter indoors until further notice.
At the start of his first prime minister's questions session, David Cameron said the House of Commons would be "alarmed and shocked by the events unfolding in Cumbria".
He continued: "I regret to report that a number of people have been shot and that at least five people have died.
Nathaniel Jepson, who lives in the area, is presently locked up in a school hall with around 50 other people. He told Channel 4 News: "We're in a school in Egremont.. Everything's locked down at the moment.
"Just over an hour ago we heard firing. We had been working in the ground of the school. We heard some sirens.
Channel 4 News reporter Nick Martin writes -
The Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria has been secured and staff have been locked in following news of the shooting.
The gates to the site near Seascale in West Cumbria have been closed and armed police are on patrol, a spokesman told Channel 4 News.
The site is less than five miles from where shots were fired in Whitehaven earlier today. A spokesman for Sellafield said: "Following the off site incident this morning involving firearms, all Sellafield site gates will remain closed until we have been advised there is no longer an off site risk to our employees.
"Morning shift personnel should remain at their posts or wait in a tea bar/canteen if not required on plant.
"“Afternoon shift have been advised not to attend site until Cumbria Constabulary have removed or reduced the off site risk and road blocks removed. Workers have been warned not to congregate at the gates or the perimeter fence and some staff leaving their shi fts today may even be given armed escorts.
"Our current priority remains the welfare of our employees," said the spokesman.
"A local shouted over the fence: someone's just been shot.
"The police told the caretaker to get everyone in, so he rounded all the site workers up. There were students working in the school as well.
"All the outer gates were locked. We're in an auditorium now. The windows have been locked.
"There's probably over 50 in the auditorium at the moment.
"We've got a radio but we just know that someone was shot. It's just word of mouth, really.
"The rumour is that the guy has gone from Whitehaven, shooting as he goes, to Egremont and then to Seascale. That's what we've heard."
A local resident who works for Sellafield at Frizington told Channel 4 News the shooting was rumoured to have started at around 11am this morning.
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Lyn Edwards, leader of the Shackles Off Youth Centre in Seascale, tells of the shooting incident that happened in their village, some 15 miles from Westhaven.
"There was a car, which is still parked out there, with a man screaming in it. People were trying to help him and he had been shot. Very quickly after that, fire brigade, police all sorts of people arrived."
She went on further to describe what an eyewitness told her about how the shooting had occurred.
"The man who had the gun, who was shooting, was in a silver car.
"We had a young mum in here and she was very traumatized. She had been following the shooter's car.
"She was one behind and she was extremely distressed as she was in the car with her children. She thought there had been a car crash initially and then very quickly realised that it was something worse than that."
A history of shootings in the UK
Spree killings such as those witnessed in Cumbria will send a shockwave through the local community and the country as a whole.
On August 19 1987: loner and gun fanatic Michael Ryan went on a shooting rampage in Hungerford.
Ryan who was armed with an automatic rifle, a pistol and at least one hand grenade he shot 16 people dead, including his mother, before killing himself.
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.
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.
March 13 1996: former Scout leader Thomas Hamilton entered the gym hall at Dunblane Primary School and opened fire on a class of five and six year olds. He shot dead 16 children and their school 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 was the subject of an extensive inquiry and report by Lord Cullen and eventually led to further tightening of gun controls following a campaign by the victims families with a ban on owning handguns.