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At least five dead and more injured in Cumbria shootings

A body, believed to be that of taxi driver turned gunman Derrick Bird, has been found by police.

Four people have been confirmed as dead and up to seven more are thought to be injured after a lone gunman opened fire in Whitehaven, Cumbria earlier today.

Derrick Bird, a 52-year-old taxi driver who was known to local people as "Birdy", fired into a car at a taxi rank with a shotgun at 10.35am this morning. The area has since been cordoned off by police and a body covered with a sheet.

Shortly after, two more deaths were certified by local GPs in the nearby village of Seascale. Dr Barrie Walker, one of the doctors called to the scene, said that one of the victims was standing in the street, while the other was on a bike. A third was seriously injured. He said: "The person who is seriously injured was in his car, driving along. It looks as though he was shot through the window."

Bird subsequently abandoned his car and continued on foot. At around 2pm, a body was found in a wooded area in Boot, another village near Whitehaven. Police have not yet confirmed the identity of the body, but it is thought to be that of the gunman. Police have recovered a gun from the scene, which was found near the body.

It is thought that there were 11 shootings in all. Although unconfirmed, local news outlets are quoting sources who say that Bird's mother and brother numbered among those shot. Helen Carter, a reporter for the Guardian, who has just arrived in Whitehaven, is reporting that Bird's mother was terminally ill, although this is also as yet unconfirmed by police.

Sue Matthews, telephonist at A2B Taxis in Whitehaven, said: "It is like watching something from America. I know him through work, he was self-employed but it's a small place. I know he had one son, who was grown up, and he lived alone. He was a regular in town and would have a night out. I would say he was fairly popular."

Sellafield nuclear power plant closed its gates as a security precaution and afternoon shiftworkers were told to stay away. The plant has since been reopened.


Caroline Crampton is assistant editor of the New Statesman. She writes a weekly podcast column.