Twelve dead, at least 25 in­jured

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - UK & World Update -

A TAXI driver went on a shot­gun ram­page yes­ter­day, killing 12 peo­ple and wound­ing at least 25 be­fore turn­ing his weapon on him­self.

Di­vorced fa­ther-of-two Der­rick Bird, 52, mur­dered a col­league in the mid­dle of White­haven and drove through the Lake District blast­ing at other vic­tims, ap­par­ently at ran­dom.

Fol­low­ing a fran­tic man­hunt amid calls for res­i­dents to stay in­doors, po­lice found his body 20 miles away in woods near the ham­let of Boot, Cum­bria.

Cum­bria Po­lice said there were 30 sep­a­rate crime scenes.

Wit­nesses told of their ter­ror as Bird drove through White­haven with the shot­gun hang­ing out of the win­dow of his taxi.

Po­lice said that fol­low­ing the shoot­ing in White­haven, the gun­man fled south along the coast, go­ing through Gos­forth and Seas­cale be­fore turn­ing in­land and end­ing up in Boot.

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 at the Duke Street taxi rank on Tues­day night.

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. Der­rick Bird took off in his car and went home. I don’t know what time of night it was.”

He said he knew one of the vic­tims, de­scrib­ing him as “a real char­ac­ter”.

The taxi driver, who had known Bird for 10 years, added: “He was quite a friendly per­son. This has been a shock to all the taxi driv­ers. It’s just a tragic thing.”

Rod Davies, land­lord of Gos­forth Hall Inn, said he un­der­stood the gun­man re­turned to his home in Rowrah and shot his own mother.

Mr Davies, who has lived in Gos­forth since 2002, said: “The guy flipped for what­ever rea­son. Whether it was pre-med­i­tated, we don’t know.

“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.

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

“He’s then headed to the val­ley where Boot is.”

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.”

West Cum­ber­land Hos­pi­tal in White­haven de­clared a ma­jor in­ci­dent, while the ac­ci­dent and emer­gency depart­ment at the Cum­ber­land In­fir­mary in Carlisle was on standby.

Boot Inn land­lord Sean King said that fel­low pub­li­can Harry Berger, who runs the Wool­pack, was shot in the arm in Seas­cale and was re­cov­er­ing in hos­pi­tal.

A mem­ber of staff at the Wool­pack Inn said a girl had re­ceived mi­nor buck­shot wounds.

Glenda Pears, boss of L&G Taxis, said Bird and a vic­tim found in Duke Street, White­haven, were self-em­ployed driv­ers and friends.

She said one of her driv­ers wit­nessed the af­ter­math of the shoot­ing at a ri­val taxi rank in White­haven.

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.”

As he be­gan his first Prime Min­is­ter’s Ques­tions, David Cameron said the House of Com­mons would be “alarmed and shocked by the events in Cum­bria”.

He said: “When lives and com­mu­ni­ties are sud­denly shat­tered in this way, our thoughts should be with all those caught up in these tragic events, es­pe­cially the fam­i­lies and friends of those killed or in­jured.”

Those who knew him were at a loss as to why Der­rick Bird turned into a killer yes­ter­day. The 52-year-old was de­scribed as a “quiet” man by neigh­bours, while ac­quain­tances said he was “fairly pop­u­lar”. None could have guessed that the di­vorced fa­ther – known as “Birdy” to friends – would turn into a gun­man re­spon­si­ble for yes­ter­day’s hor­rific shoot­ing spree. From Rowrah, near Friz­ing­ton in Cum­bria, he worked as a self-em­ployed taxi driver. It is a job that he has done for more than two decades. He was di­vorced and lived alone, ac­cord­ing to Sue Matthews, a tele­phon­ist at A2B Taxis in White­haven. She said: “To be hon­est, he was a quiet fel­low. I am in ab­so­lute shock. “I can’t be­lieve he would do that.” She added: “I know him through work, he was self-em­ployed but it’s a small place. “I know he had one son, who was grown up, and he lived alone. “I would say he was fairly pop­u­lar. I would see him once a week.”

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