The Cumbria shootings was a shooting spree which occurred on 2 June 2010 when a lone gunman, taxi driver Derrick Bird, killed twelve people and injured eleven others in Cumbria, England, United Kingdom. Along with the 1987 Hungerford massacre and the 1996 Dunblane school massacre, it is one of the worst criminal acts involving firearms in British history. The shootings ended when Bird killed himself in a wooded area after abandoning his car in the village of Boot.
|Location||Copeland, Cumbria, England, UK|
|Date||2 June 2010 |
10:13 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
|Spree shooting, murder-suicide|
|Deaths||13 (including the perpetrator)|
The shootings began in mid-morning in Lamplugh and moved to Frizington, Whitehaven, Egremont, Gosforth, and Seascale, sparking a major manhunt by the Cumbria Constabulary, with assistance from Civil Nuclear Constabulary officers. Thirty crime scenes across Copeland were investigated.
Queen Elizabeth II paid tribute to the victims, and the Prince of Wales later visited Whitehaven in the wake of the tragedy. Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May also visited West Cumbria. A memorial fund was set up to aid victims and affected communities.
In the early hours of Wednesday, 2 June 2010, Derrick Bird left his home in Rowrah, Cumbria, drove his Citroën Xsara Picasso to his twin brother David's home in Lamplugh, and shot him eleven times in the head and body with a .22 calibre rifle, killing him.
Bird then drove to Frizington, arriving at the home of his family's solicitor, Kevin Commons. Bird prevented Commons from driving away by firing twice with a double-barrelled shotgun – which he had earlier sawn off (the barrel and a saw being later found at his home) – hitting him once in the shoulder. Commons staggered out of his car and onto the entrance to his farmyard, where Bird killed him with two rifle shots to the head. Bird then moved on towards Whitehaven. A witness called the Cumbria Constabulary to report the Commons shooting, although her call was delayed by several minutes after she asked neighbours what she should do. She also erroneously described Bird as being armed with an air rifle despite being able to hear the gunshots.
After killing Commons, Bird went to a friend's residence to retrieve a shotgun he had loaned, although he was answered by the friend's wife, who didn't have access to it. Afterwards, at 10:33, Bird drove to a taxi rank on Duke Street, Whitehaven. There, he called over Darren Rewcastle, another taxi driver who was previously known to Bird; Bird had conflicts with Rewcastle over his behaviour, his practice of poaching fares, and an incident wherein Rewcastle damaged the tyres on Bird's taxi and openly boasted about it. When Rewcastle approached Bird's taxi, he was shot twice at point-blank range with the rifle, hitting him in the lower face, chest, and abdomen. Rewcastle died of his injuries, becoming the only person to die in Whitehaven during the attacks.
Soon after killing Rewcastle, Bird drove alongside another taxi driver, Donald Reid, and shot him in the back, wounding him. Bird then made a loop back to the taxi rank and fired twice at Reid as he waited for emergency personnel, missing him. Next, Bird drove away from the taxi rank and stopped alongside another taxi driver named Paul Wilson as he walked down Scotch Street, and called him over to his vehicle as he did with Rewcastle; when Wilson answered his call, Bird shot him in the right side of his face with the sawn-off shotgun, severely wounding him. As a result of the shootings, unarmed officers at the local police station were informed and began following Bird's taxi as it drove onto Coach Road. There, Bird fired his shotgun at a passing taxi, injuring the male driver, Terry Kennedy, and the female passenger, Emma Percival. Bird was then able to flee the officers after he aimed his shotgun at two of them, forcing them to take cover. However, he did not fire; he instead took advantage of the officers' distraction to escape.
In the wake of the Whitehaven shootings, residents there and in the neighbouring towns of Egremont and Seascale were urged to stay indoors. A massive manhunt for Bird was launched by the Cumbria Constabulary, which was assisted by Civil Nuclear Constabulary officers. Bird proceeded to drive through several local towns, firing apparently at random, and calling a majority of the victims over to his taxi before shooting them.
Near Egremont, Bird tried to shoot Jacqueline Williamson as she walked her dog, but she managed to escape without injury. Upon arriving in Egremont, he stopped alongside Susan Hughes as she walked home from shopping, and shot her in the chest and abdomen with the shotgun. He then got out of his taxi and got into a struggle with Hughes before fatally shooting her in the back of the head with his rifle. Then, after driving a short distance to Bridge End, Bird fired the shotgun at Kenneth Fishburn as he walked in the opposite direction; Fishburn suffered fatal wounds to the head and chest. This was followed by the shooting of Leslie Hunter, who was called over to Bird's taxi before being shot in the face at close range with the shotgun, then a second time in the back after he turned away to protect himself. Hunter survived his injuries.
Bird then went south towards Thornhill, where he fired his shotgun at Ashley Glaister, a teenage girl; however, he missed her. He then passed Carleton and travelled on to the village of Wilton. There, he tried to visit Jason Carey, a member of a diving club Bird also belonged to, but Bird left when Carey's wife came to the door. Soon afterward, Bird shot Jennifer Jackson once in the chest with his shotgun and twice in the head with his rifle, killing her. Bird then drove past Town Head Farm, but turned back towards it and fired his shotgun, fatally hitting Jackson's husband James in the head and wounding a woman named Christine Hunter-Hall in the back. He then drove back to Carleton and killed Isaac Dixon, a mole-catcher, who was fatally shot twice at close range as he was talking to a farmer in a field. A former semi-professional rugby player, Garry Purdham, was soon shot and killed while working in a field outside the Red Admiral Hotel at Boonwood, near Gosforth.
Bird then drove towards Seascale. Along the way, he began driving slowly and waved other motorists to pass him. He shot a motorist named James "Jamie" Clark, who suffered a fatal wound to the head, although it was not clear at first whether he died from the gunshot or the subsequent car crash. Bird then encountered another motorist named Harry Berger at a narrow, one-way passage underneath a railway bridge. When Berger allowed Bird to enter first, Bird fired at him as he passed by, shooting him twice and causing severe injury to his right arm. Three armed response vehicles attempting to pursue Bird were later blocked out of the tunnel by Berger's vehicle; it had to be pushed away to let them pass.
Meanwhile, Bird had driven on to Drigg Road, where he fired twice at Michael Pike, a retired man who was cycling in front of him; the first shot missed, but the second hit Pike in the head and killed him. Seconds later, while on the same street, Bird fatally shot Jane Robinson in the neck and head at point-blank range after apparently calling her over.
After the killing of Robinson, who was the final fatality in the shootings, witnesses described Bird as driving increasingly erratically down the street. At 11:33, Police Constables Phillip Lewis and Andrew Laverack spotted Bird as his car passed by their vehicle. They attempted to pursue him, but were delayed in roadworks and lost sight of him a minute later. Soon afterward Bird drove into Eskdale valley, where he wounded Jackie Lewis in the neck with his rifle as she was out walking. At this point, his route had become clearer to police during their search for him. Next, Bird stopped alongside Fiona Moretta, who leaned into his passenger window, believing he was going to ask her for directions. Instead, he injured her in the chest with the rifle, then continued onward towards the village of Boot.
Arriving in Boot, Bird briefly stopped at a business premises called Sim's Travel and fired his rifle at nearby people, but missed. Continuing further into the village, he continued firing at random people and missing. Bird eventually fired his rifle at two men, hitting and severely wounding Nathan Jones in the face. This was shortly followed by a couple who had stopped their car to take a photo; Samantha Chrystie suffered severe wounds to the face from a rifle bullet. Chrystie's partner, Craig Ross, fled upon Bird's instruction and was then fired at, but escaped uninjured.
Shortly after firing at two cyclists, Bird crashed his taxi into several vehicles and a stone wall, damaging a tyre. Briefly continuing onward, he abandoned his car at a beauty spot near Boot, named Doctor Bridge, when the damaged tyre deflated. A nearby family of four, who were unaware of the shootings, offered assistance to Bird, but were quickly turned down and advised to leave. Bird removed the rifle from his taxi and walked over a bridge leading into Oak How Woods. He was last seen alive at 12:30; shortly afterward, police confirmed that there had been fatalities and that they were searching for a suspect. Police later announced they were searching for the driver of a dark-grey Citroën Xsara Picasso driven by the suspect, who was identified as Bird. At around 12:36, armed police officers and dog handlers arrived at the scene of Bird's abandoned taxi and began a search in and around the wooded area.
At 14:00, Deputy Chief Constable Stuart Hyde announced that Bird's body had been found in a wooded area, along with a rifle. Police confirmed shortly afterwards that members of the public who had taken shelter during the incident could now resume their normal activities.
During the manhunt, the gates of the nearby Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant were closed as a precaution, and the afternoon shift was told not to come to work. This was the first lock-down in the history of the plant.
At 15:00, during his first session of Prime Minister's Questions, David Cameron confirmed that "at least five" people had died, including the gunman. Over the next few hours, Bird's shooting of his brother and solicitor was announced. Later that evening, a police press conference in Whitehaven announced that 12 people had been killed, that a further 11 people were injured, three of them critically, and that the suspect had killed himself. They also confirmed that two weapons (a sawn-off double-barrelled shotgun and a .22-calibre rifle with a scope and silencer) had been used by the suspect in the attacks, and that 30 crime scenes were being investigated. The shootings were considered the worst mass-casualty shooting incident in the UK since the 1996 Dunblane school massacre, which left 18 people dead. A report later determined that Bird fired at least 47 rounds during the shootings (29 from his shotgun, 18 from his .22 rifle). Six live .22 rounds were also found on Bird's person, with an additional eight loaded in the rifle. A search in Bird's home later recovered over 750 rounds of live .22 ammunition, 240 live shotgun shells, and a large amount of financial paperwork.
The police stated that the shootings took place along a 24 kilometres (15 mi) stretch of the Cumbrian coastline. Helicopters from neighbouring police forces were used in the manhunt, while those from the RAF Search and Rescue Force and the Yorkshire Air Ambulance responded to casualties. A major incident was declared by North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust at West Cumberland Hospital, with the accident and emergency department at the Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle, on full incident stand-by.
Bird had been a licensed firearms holder, and the incident sparked debate about further gun control in the United Kingdom; the previous Dunblane and Hungerford shootings had led to increased firearms controls.
- David Bird, 52, killed at Lamplugh, gunman's twin brother.
- Kevin Commons, 60, killed at Frizington, gunman's family solicitor.
- Darren Rewcastle, 43, killed at Whitehaven, fellow taxi driver known to the gunman.
- Susan Hughes, 57, killed at Egremont.
- Kenneth Fishburn, 71, killed at Egremont.
- Jennifer Jackson, 68, killed at Wilton, wife of James Jackson.
- James Jackson, 67, killed at Wilton, husband of Jennifer Jackson.
- Isaac Dixon, 65, killed at Carleton.
- Garry Purdham, 31, killed at Gosforth.
- James "Jamie" Clark, 23, killed at Seascale.
- Michael Pike, 64, killed at Seascale.
- Jane Robinson, 66, killed at Seascale.
|Born||27 November 1957|
Whitehaven, Cumberland, England
|Died||2 June 2010 (aged 52)|
Derrick Bird (27 November 1957 – 2 June 2010) was born to Mary (née Sims) and Joseph Bird (died 1998). He had a twin brother, David, and an older brother, Brian, who was six years older than Derrick and David. He lived alone in Rowrah, Cumbria, and had two sons with a woman from whom he had separated in the mid-1990s. He became a grandfather in May 2010, and was described as a quiet, popular man who worked as a self-employed taxi driver in Whitehaven.
In 2007, Bird was beaten unconscious by four men who tried to run instead of paying him for taxi services. Friends said he changed after the attack. It was reported that Bird had previously sought help from a local hospital due to his fragile mental state, although these reports were unconfirmed. He had held a shotgun certificate since 1974 and had renewed it several times, most recently in 2005, and had held a firearms certificate for a rifle from 2007 onward. Bird was being investigated by HM Revenue and Customs at the time of the shooting. His body was formally identified at Furness General Hospital in Barrow-in-Furness, and he was cremated at a private service on 18 June 2010.
There has been speculation that Bird may have had a grudge against people associated with the Sellafield nuclear power plant where he had worked as a joiner, resigning in 1990 following an allegation of theft of wood from the plant. He was subsequently convicted and given a twelve-month suspended sentence. Three of the dead were former plant employees, although there is no evidence that any were involved with his resignation.
Terry Kennedy, a fellow taxi driver who described himself as one of Bird's best friends, and was wounded by Bird, has claimed that he had a relationship with a Thai girl or woman he met on holiday in Pattaya, Thailand. It has been further claimed by another friend of Bird that he had sent £1,000 to the "girlfriend", who subsequently ended their relationship via a text message; he added that Bird had been "made a fool out of".
It has also been speculated that Bird had been involved with a family dispute over his father's will, after his death in 1998. The speculation was heightened when it was revealed that he had targeted and killed both his twin, David, and the family's solicitor, Kevin Commons, in his attacks.
Police investigating the killings have also found that Bird was the subject of an ongoing tax investigation by HM Revenue and Customs for tax evasion and the threat of possible future prosecution and punishment might have contributed to his actions. According to Mark Cooper, a fellow taxi driver who had known him for fifteen years, Bird had accumulated £60,000 in a secret bank account and was worried he would be sent to prison for hiding the cash from the government. He reportedly believed his brother and the solicitor were conspiring to send him to prison for tax evasion; in the three days before the killings, Bird called his brother forty-four times.
Official responses and visitsEdit
Prime Minister David Cameron was joined by several other MPs in expressing the House of Commons members' shock and horror at the events during Prime Minister's Questions. Home Secretary Theresa May expressed her regret at the deaths and paid tribute to the response of the emergency services. The Cabinet met to discuss the shootings and May later made a statement on the Cumbria incident to the House of Commons on 3 June 2010. Cameron and May visited the affected region on 4 June 2010 to meet victims, officials and local people. Jamie Reed (Labour), the local MP for Copeland, called the incident the "blackest day in our community's history".
On the evening of 2 June, Queen Elizabeth II said she was "deeply shocked" by the shootings and shared the nation's "grief and horror". Prince Charles visited Whitehaven on 11 June 2010 to meet members of the community affected by the tragedy.
In popular cultureEdit
BBC One altered their programming to broadcast two BBC News specials about the shootings, at 14:15 and 19:30 on the same day. Transmissions of ITV soap Coronation Street were cancelled on 2, 3, and 4 June as the scheduled broadcast was a week-long special involving a violent storyline featuring a gun siege in a factory. The episodes were aired the following week. An edition of the Channel 4 panel game You Have Been Watching, which was due to be broadcast on 3 June 2010, was postponed because it was a crime special.
American pop singer Lady Gaga came under criticism after performing a murder scene at her concert in Manchester, as part of her Monster Ball Tour, just hours after the shooting spree.
On 9 June 2010, a week after the incident, memorial services were held in the West Cumbria towns affected by the shootings followed by a minute's silence at midday. Soon after the minute's silence taxi drivers on Duke Street sounded their horns for one minute to show their respect. The minute's silence for the Cumbria victims was also marked prior to David Cameron's second Prime Minister's Questions in Parliament. The funerals of the majority of Bird's victims were held at various churches in West Cumbria.
A memorial fund was established by the Cumbria Community Foundation to aid victims and communities affected by the West Cumbria shootings.
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