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PM Cameron to visit scene of Cumbria shootings

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-06-04

British Prime Minister David Cameron (pictured) is set to visit the Lake District on Friday to talk to senior police investigating a lone gunman's killing spree that left 12 people dead in the country's worst such incident in years.

AFP - Britain's prime minister headed for northwest England Friday to visit the scene of a shooting spree that left 12 dead, as police probed whether financial woes sparked the massacre.
   
David Cameron was to meet with detectives as they struggle to explain why local taxi driver Derrick Bird, 52, went on a deadly rampage through the scenic Lake District region Wednesday before turning the gun on himself.
   
Police confirmed Bird killed his twin brother David and the family solicitor, and said they were investigating speculation that financial problems had pushed an outwardly ordinary man over the edge.
   
Bird also wounded 11 people as he drove through west Cumbria, calling people over to his car before opening fire or taking pot shots from the window. As police closed in, he took his own life in a wood near the village of Boot.
   
Officers recovered a shotgun and a .22 rifle fitted with a telescopic sight. Police confirmed Bird had valid licences for both weapons.
   
More than 100 officers were working to retrace Bird's deadly journey through an area popular with hill walkers to establish why a man described by neighbours as a "normal bloke" caused such mayhem.
   
One of his friends, a fellow taxi driver, said Bird had been worried about an investigation by tax authorities into his finances.
   
"He said: 'They have caught me with 60,000 pounds (90,000 dollars, 70,000 euros) in the bank, the tax people'. He just said: 'I'll go to jail'," said Mark Cooper, 45, who had known Bird for 15 years.
   
Reports suggested Bird argued with his twin brother David over the money and their mother's will, but David's three daughters denied any family rift.
   
Rachel, Tracey and Katie paid tribute to their father, a "loving character".
   
"We would like to take this opportunity to say there was absolutely no family feud. Our Dad's only downfall was to try and help his brother," they said, in an apparent hint at discord within the family.
   
Police confirmed they were investigating whether financial troubles could have triggered the massacre. "It is an ongoing line of inquiry but there is no comment on that at this present moment," said a Cumbria police spokesman.
   
Bird had also argued with other taxi drivers the night before the killings, and reportedly told them: "There's going to be a rampage tomorrow."
   
Other media reports said an old friend of Bird's recalled that the killer had told him late Tuesday: "I won't see you again."
   
Bird's brother and his family solicitor, 60-year-old Kevin Commons, were thought to be among the first victims, and the killer then drove to the taxi rank in the town of Whitehaven and shot three of his fellow cabbies.
   
Other victims included Jane Robinson, 66, gunned down as she delivered catalogues door-to-door, 23-year-old Jamie Clark, whose body was found in his car, and Garry Purdham, 31, found dead on a roadside.
   
Detective Chief Superintendent Iain Goulding said it appeared the taxi driver selected some of his victims deliberately and others randomly.
   
He said he was "absolutely determined" to find out why he killed them, but warned: "It may not be possible to establish all the answers because we cannot speak to Derrick Bird."
   
Goulding said Bird had convictions for theft in the 1990s, but he had never been to prison and there was no record of him having mental problems.
   
Bird's elderly mother, Mary, was said to be "stunned" by her son's actions.
   
People who knew "Birdy", as the killer was widely known, described a quiet but popular man who lived alone. He was divorced, had two children and had recently become a grandfather.
   
Cameron said the shooting, the worst in Britain since 16 children and their teacher were killed by a lone gunman at a school in Dunblane, Scotland, in 1996, was "appalling".
   
But he warned against a "knee-jerk" reaction to calls for tougher gun laws, saying: "You can't legislate for a switch flicking in someone's head."

Date created : 2010-06-04

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