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Cumbria shootings, killing spree in rural England

Updated on August 3, 2013
ethel smith profile image

With a keen interest in British politics this writer is never afraid to share her opinion

June 2, 2010, saw many areas of the UK experiencing a welcome promise of the summer just around the corner. It was hot for late Spring but not sweltering and humid as Summer in England can occasionally be. In towns, villages and cities up and down the country people went about their ordinary lives and everyday business.

That is except for one man.

52 year old Derrick Bird, for some reason, was bent on killing and that is what he did.

UK map. The dark area is Cumbria
UK map. The dark area is Cumbria
The route Bird took
The route Bird took
Early reports
Early reports

When I left work at lunchtime Bird's killing spree was well underway.

Usually I check the news out as soon as I get home. However as it was such a lovely day Hubby and I went out. We spent a lovely afternoon with family enjoying the sunshine, a little alcohol, good food and good company. As we laughed in the garden of a family member and enjoyed recent holiday photographs more people were being murdered in another part of the UK.

When we arrived home at around 8pm I saw something about Cumbria on the Internet which caught my eye. I instantly turned the TV on and saw what had been unfolding throughout the day.

Derrick Bird was a taxi driver in Cumbria. Since the day's events fellow workers have commented that Bird's parting on the Tuesday evening had been strange. Like most of us would do no-one had thought much about it at the time. Now it seemed a chilling warning.

Derrick had said goodnight and something like you will not see me again.

Some of Wednesday's events are still unclear. However, here is what seems to have happened.

Armed with a rifle and a shotgun Derrick had made his way to Whitehaven. At the local taxi rank he had called out to fellow worker "Hello Darren" As Darren turned, Bird pointed his weapon, aimed and shot this man in the face. Darren died instantly. He then shot at another taxi driver who dived for cover. This man was wounded but was not admitted to hospital.

It now appears that before these events Bird had already gunned down his twin brother and the family solicitor. These men were at different locations but Bird was travelling around the country and coastal roads of Cumbria in car, selecting his victims.

Police believe that initially Bird's victims were selected but after a while people were randomly shot. I do not know if this is true and perhaps we will never know. It does appear that Bird new a fair few of those he shot.

Eventually Bird found his desired spot, turned the gun on himself and committed suicide.

By this time 12 people were dead and at least 11 injured. Some of those injured had serious injuries. If you count the killer, who committed suicide, 13 people died in all.

My thoughts

Obviously my thoughts go out to all concerned. The injured, dead, families and friends will suffer for years to come. The people of Cumbria who have suffered flooding and more this year have took a battering. Bird's own family will find it difficult to cope with. Bird was divorced but leaves two sons behind and his own mother. Those who had to look such grizzly deaths in the face as they attempted to offer first aid will be troubled for years to come.

60 year old Barrie Walker, a local doctor, who was visibly shocked, despite his medical background said:

"I saw somebody cycling down the hill into Seascale who had just been shot on his bicycle, still sitting on it dead on the pavement, and another lady who had been delivering catalogues in the village for a business which she runs, shot with catalogues in her hand. These were severe gunshot wounds to people's heads, faces. There was no chance that they would have been alive after the wounds had been inflicted. These were wounds I had never seen before"

There have been many such stories from local people. One victim was a farmer trimming his hedge who was shot dead as Bird drove past. A local estate agent was shot dead whilst driving his car. Whether the people were as random as the police think is dubious.

The day's events are already making the UK consider its gun laws yet again. Would a tightening of such laws have prevented this tragedy, who knows? Questions are being asked about how this man could travel around during a three hour or more period killing at will.

Of course overall it makes people wonder why?

What causes such a man to act in such a way? Rumours are being circulated that there was a family dispute over a will. There had also been some bad feeling at work which was left unresolved.

These rumours may be true or not but are they enough to cause 12 deaths and so many injuries?

Although such incident's are not common in the UK sadly they are not unique.

In the weeks to come this news story will be picked over, again and again, but answers may never be clear. As usually happens by destroying himself in the end we will probably never know just what happened in Bird's head to instigate such a killing rampage.

The 12 dead have been named as.

  • The first victim is believed to be David Bird, Derrick's twin brother.
  • Keith Commons, 60, a solicitor.
  • Darren Rewcastle, taxi driver.
  • Gary Purdham, 31, farmer.
  • Jane Robinson, 66, who lived with her twin sister.
  • Michael Pike, 64, died cycling through a village.
  • Kenneth Fishburn retired security worker.
  • Susan Hughes 57 was walking home on that June day. Bird got out of his car to kill Susan. He walked up to her and shot her in the stomach.
  • Retired husband and wife James and Jennifer Jackson were apparently randomly killed, in separate locations.
  • Issac Dixon was in his sixties.
  • Estate agent Jamie Clark was only 23.

When you think about it this could have affected any of us. You or I could have been out and about laughing in the sun only to be literally blown away. Bird had called some of his victims over to his car and then killed them. Suspecting nothing they went like lambs to the slaughter.

The press are having a field day in Cumbria and mulling over the most grizzly details. The events have been reported now though and it should be time to let the people of Cumbria grieve in peace.



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    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      3 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      I agree it was horrible

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      A dreadful event in my home county. Unbelievable to happen in such a beautiful part of the world.

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks for the input ankushkoli. I suppose suicide bombers feel they are doing it for a cause but the end result is the same. In the UK weapon control is pretty good but obviously not good enough

    • AnkushKohli profile image

      Ankush Kohli 

      7 years ago from India

      Very sad incident. It is no different from a suicide bomber. I think civilians should only be allowed to carry weapons in rare cases only. Similar stories from around the world call for strict restrictions on carrying weapons and especially trade of illegal weapons.

    • Angelllite profile image


      8 years ago from United States

      Wow! What insight!

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Yes Izzy sadly I am a Corrie fan. It came with age. I am glad they canecelled last week's episodes as the story line would have been too near the mark. Thanks for dropping by.

    • IzzyM profile image


      8 years ago from UK

      This was indeed yet another tragic event and thank Ethel for writing about it. I don't know if you are a Coronation Street fan but their storyline last week was about a serious gun incident and as a mark of respect they cancelled several episodes.

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Yes garnetbird although some parts are still safer than others. Thankfully such gun crimes are rare but really they should never happen, should they?

      Thanks for the visit and compliment

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Very timely and professionally written. I have roots that go back to the UK (1640's) and I also lived here for a year--sad to realize how crime in Britain has increased. I remember walking, after dark, around Southampton, England with absolutely no fear of crime.

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks Amanda and Eileen. I could not agree more, especially that we must all seize the day.

    • Eileen Hughes profile image

      Eileen Hughes 

      8 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      This was so shocking, thats why you have to be thankful of every day you are alive and enjoy while you can. It just makes you wonder why.

    • Amanda Severn profile image

      Amanda Severn 

      8 years ago from UK

      Hi Ethel, I'm so glad that we have strict gun laws, and that gun ownership is relatively uncommon, so that this kind of tragedy is a very rare event here in the UK. Cumbria is one of the most beautiful areas of Britain, and it's hard to imagine this sequence of events being played out in those winding country lanes amongst the spring blossom. Too sad. I wonder what was in his head that day.

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks Habee and Katie. Terrible events but we need to be aware of them

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      I was hoping you or HH would write a hub on this. You read my mind! Thanks!

    • katiem2 profile image


      8 years ago from I'm outta here

      You just don't know who may snap and yet I feel people close to them must know they are of a angry or unsettled sort. If people had some resource for turning evidence in on such time bombs, hum do sort that out for us dear, your fantastic, I love reading your work it is helpful to become more enlightened. Peace :)

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks BJ. I did not want to add too many gruesome details. It is a sensitive subject

    • BJBenson profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      Thank you for all the information. You let us all know what happen but with respect to all involved. I hope the Lord blesses all of the families. This will be hard on the whole village for a long time. What could of made this man do what he did? I hope the best for all and that they will recover soon, and bless the departed.

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks all. It is always sad to write about such events but we need to keep alert

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      It is sad and shoking beyond words.

    • MickS profile image


      8 years ago from March, Cambridgeshire, England

      Watcha Ethel,

      yes, very strange, at first it seems random, but then it seems selectve, perhaps a mixture of both?



    • billyaustindillon profile image


      8 years ago

      Sadly we are seeing more of these mad men that devastate lives. How are they so full of hate? The families they leave devastated it overwhelming. Cumbria by my recollection is a very calm and friendly region. There are some real evil man amongst us and we sadly must always be wary.

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 

      8 years ago

      Heard about this on American news. Very sad for those who lost loved ones. And I think you're right, we'll never know why.


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