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Taxi driver kills 12, wounds 25 in England

A car with a body still inside is

A car with a body still inside is seen under a green cover, on a street in Seascale, England, after a man went on a shooting rampage Wednesday. (June 2, 2010) Credit: AP

SEASCALE, England - A taxi driver drove on a shooting spree across a tranquil stretch of northwest England Wednesday, methodically killing 12 people and wounding 25 others before turning the gun on himself, officials said.

The rampage in Cumbria County was Britain's deadliest mass shooting since 1996, and it jolted a country where handguns are banned and multiple shootings rare.

The body of the suspected gunman, Derrick Bird, 52, was found in woods near Boot, a hamlet popular with hikers and vacationers in the hilly, scenic Lake District. Two weapons were recovered from the scene.

Eight of the wounded were in a hospital, with three in critical condition. Queen Elizabeth II issued a message saying she was "deeply shocked" and shared in "the grief and horror of the whole country."

Police said it was too early to say what the killer's motive was, or whether the shootings had been random. Some reports said Bird had quarreled with fellow cabdrivers.

Peter Leder, a driver who knew Bird, said he had seen him Tuesday and didn't notice anything amiss, but he was struck by Bird's departing words. "When he left he said, 'See you Peter, but I won't see you again,' " Leder told Channel 4 News.

The first shootings were reported in the coastal town of Whitehaven, about 350 miles northwest of London. Witnesses said the dead there included two of Bird's fellow cabbies.

Police warned residents to stay indoors as they tracked the gunman's progress across the county. Witnesses described seeing the gunman driving around shooting from the window of his car.

Victims died in Seascale and Egremont, near Whitehaven, and in Gosforth, where a farmer's son was shot dead in a field. Police said there were 30 separate crime scenes. They would not discuss the identity of those killed, but local reports said Bird killed a 66-year-old woman near her home and a retired man who was out cycling.

Deadly shootings are rare in Britain, where gun ownership is tightly restricted.

Sue Matthews, who works at A2B Taxis in Whitehaven, said Bird was self-employed, quiet and lived alone. "I would say he was fairly popular," she said. "I can't believe he would do that - he was a quiet little fellow."


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