Cumbria shootings: 12 killed, 25 hurt as gunman goes on rampage

AT LEAST 12 people were killed in the Lake District today when a taxi driver went on a shooting spree before turning the gun on himself.

• Police guard the scene of a shooting incident in Whitehaven today. Picture: Rod Minchin

Medics were treating a further 25 people for injuries following a three-and-a-half hour rampage by divorced father-of-two Derrick Bird.

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Cumbria Police confirmed the rising death toll at press briefing in Whitehaven, where the shootings started at around 10.35am today.

It is understood Bird opened fire at a taxi rank in the town before getting in his car and heading south. Witnesses told of their terror as Bird drove through Whitehaven with the shotgun hanging out of the window of his taxi.

Bird then drove through the Lake District villages of Gosforth and Seascale, picking off his victims apparently at random, before turning inland and ending up in in the hamlet of Boot, some 20 miles south-east of Whitehaven.

Police began a frantic manhunt for Bird (pictured), 52, and warned residents in the area to stay behind locked doors before confirming they had found his body and a firearm in a wood near Boot.

• Map of key locations in the Cumbria shooting spree

Deputy Chief Constable Stuart Hyde, speaking in Duke Street, Whitehaven, where a victim's body was found, 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."

Mr Hyde added: "Our focus now is to try and work out what has caused this and where Mr Bird has been over the last 24 hours and in particular the last few hours.

"I would plead to anyone who has seen him or has seen any of the incidents, please come forward, speak to us and help us piece together exactly was has happened in this very, very tragic set of circumstances.

"We have a number of crime scenes across the county, which are being staffed by police officers, and I would ask people to show a little bit of restraint and respect in regard to those scenes as we try and piece together exactly what has gone on."

• Map of key locations in the Cumbria shooting spree

• Cumbrian shootings: A timeline of events

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• Eyewitness accounts: 'We heard a couple of gunshots and the police running about'

• Gunman Derrick Bird was a 'nice lad'

• Police statement on the Cumbria shootings

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

Rod Davies, landlord of Gosforth Hall Inn, has been talking to businesses in the tight-knit community throughout the day.

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, and shot him at point-blank range.

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

Mr Davies said that shortly after they heard the man had arrived in Boot, police called to inform him it was safe to leave his property.

"I'm welling up as I knew the local farmer who is believed to be killed," he said.

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"We're a very close community, it will be felt across the whole area.

"We're used to 'neighbour's cat missing' stories making the news – not this sort of thing."

Cumbria police set up a casualty bureau line on 0845 3300 247.