A gunman killed at least 12 people in a rampage through quiet towns in and around the scenic Lake District of northwest England yesterday in Britain’s worst shooting spree for 14 years.
Terrified locals and walkers were told to stay indoors as 52-year-old taxi driver Derrick Bird opened fire on people in towns across the sparsely populated county of Cumbria, one of Britain’s top tourist destinations.
As well as the 12 dead, 25 people were wounded, including three in critical condition, in shootings in 30 locations.
After a huge manhunt, Bird’s body was found in a secluded area in Boot, a remote hamlet in the Eskdale valley, an area popular with hillwalkers. Police said he was believed to have killed himself.
“This has shocked the people of Cumbria, and around the country, to the core,” said Stuart Hyde, Assistant Chief Constable of Cumbria Police.
“We are still at a very early stage in our investigation and we are not able to really understand the motivation behind it or establish whether this was a premeditated or random attack.”
Queen Elizabeth said in a brief message she was “deeply shocked” by the news and shared the “grief and horror of the whole country.”
Multiple shootings 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, and a man shot dead 16 people in the southern English town of Hungerford in 1987.