At least 12 people were shot dead Wednesday by a gunman on a shooting spree in north-west England, according to authorities. Police say that they may have found the body of the gunman, a 52-year-old taxi driver.
REUTERS - A gunman killed at least five people in a rampage through quiet towns in and around the scenic Lake District of northwest England on Wednesday before police found a body they believed to be the killer.
Terrified locals, walkers and tourists were told to stay indoors after reports of shootings in towns across the predominantly rural and sparsely populated county of Cumbria.
After a huge manhunt to capture the suspected gunman, 52-year-old taxi driver Derrick Bird, police said they had found a body in a secluded area in Boot, a remote hamlet in the Eskdale valley, an area popular with hillwalkers.
"I can confirm that we have found a body in a wooded area of Boot which we believed to be Mr Bird together with a firearm," said Stuart Hyde, Assistant Chief Constable of Cumbria Police.
The exact number of casualties was not known but British Prime Minister David Cameron told parliament that at least five people had been killed. Police said at least 25 people had been injured.
"Our focus now is to find out what has caused this and where Mr Bird has been over the last 24 hours and in particular the last few hours," Hyde said.
Multiple shooting incidents are rare in Britain where there are strict gun controls.
In 1996, a gunman massacred 16 children and their teacher in the Scottish town of Dunblane in 1996 and a man shot dead 16 people in the southern English town of Hungerford in 1987.
The Dunblane killings led to an amnesty in which about 23,000 weapons were handed in and led to new laws which banned civilian ownership of handguns and meant other weapons required a certificate from the police.
TAXI DRIVERS DISPUTE
Police said every armed officer in Cumbria had been involved in trying to capture Bird who worked in the coastal town of Whitehaven where the shootings began at 0935 GMT.
Lorraine Rimmer, who works for Stirling Cabs, said Bird had shot three taxi drivers following a dispute, killing one and leaving another in intensive care.
"He had a dispute with a taxi driver yesterday morning which carried on into today. He absolutely lost the plot," she told Reuters. "He was a bit of a loner who hardly spoke to people."
As police chased Bird through sleepy towns and villages across the Cumbria, frightened locals were told to shelter indoors. The gunman eventually dumped his car and headed on foot through picturesque areas popular with walkers.
Landlord Sean King said officers had warned him that the gunman was heading towards his pub in the village of Boot with a population of about 15.
"It was very unnerving," King told Reuters, saying there had been a steady trail of hikers heading to his pub for shelter.
"There were about three helicopters hovering over the pub and they were so low the building was shaking."
He said Bird's body was believed to have been found about 200 yards (metres) from his Boot Inn pub.
"We heard shots but there could have been an echo," he said.
During the manhunt, the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in Seascale said all the site gates had been closed, with staff told to remain at their posts on site. However it said its operations were unaffected.
Date created : 2010-06-02