12 Killed in Rampage in Rural Britain
Police officers stood next to a body after a shooting rampage on Wednesday in the town of Whitehaven in northwest England.
By JOHN F. BURNS
Published: June 2, 2010
LONDON — Britain experienced its worst shooting rampage in years on Wednesday when a 52-year-old taxi driver killed at least 12 people and wounded about 25 others before shooting himself in a remote area of the Lake District, one of the country’s most celebrated beauty spots.
The police identified the killer as Derrick Bird, a longtime resident of the area and said they had found his body in woodland on the western edges of the Lake District National Park, about 200 miles northwest of London in the county of Cumbria. They said they had also found a gun, of a type they did not identify.
Britain has some of the strongest gun control laws of any country in Europe.
The police said the man had gone on a three-hour killing spree that started in mid-morning in the coastal town of Whitehaven, and continued as he drove a zigzag route that took him 25 miles. He first headed south along a road going inland then east up into the Lakeland hills, driving through towns and villages — Egremont, Seascale, Gosforth and Boot, among others — that are a regular part of the tourist trail through the Lake District. In all, the police said, they are investigating 30 crime scenes where shootings occurred.
The police said Mr. Bird eventually crashed his car, a Citroën Picasso, and fled on foot before shooting himself dead. His body was found near the village of Boot, about 10 miles from Grasmere, where the Romantic poet William Wordsworth spent much of his life.
Newspaper accounts said Mr. Bird shot his first victim, another taxi driver, in the head at close range at a taxi rank in Whitehaven, a quiet coastal town, before getting into his car and shooting, apparently at random, through the shattered windshield of his car.
The Daily Mail newspaper said pedestrians there raced frantically for cover as he sprayed the streets with bullets. It said Mr. Bird shot a young farmer, identified as Gary Purdham, a married father of two in his 30s, as he worked in the field near Gosforth with his uncle.