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Cumbria shootings, killing spree in rural England
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.
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.
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.