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  1. Politics
3 March 2010

Twelve confirmed dead in Cumbria shooting spree

Taxi driver Derrick Bird killed 12 and injured 11 in one of the worst mass killings in British history.

By New Statesman

Twelve people have been confirmed dead after a taxi driver went on a shooting spree in Cumbria before turning his weapon on himself.

Derrick Bird, 52, shot dead his twin brother and at least one colleague before driving down the west coast in a three-and-a-half-hour rampage, blasting passers-by at random. Eleven people were injured, three critically, as Bird fired shots at people in towns, villages and on country roads.

Cumbria Police’s Deputy Chief Constable Stuart Hyde has confirmed that Bird was a licensed gun holder.

He said: “He had a shotgun certificate and a firearms licence for weapons but we do not know at this stage whether the weapons that we recovered are those he was licensed for.

“A detailed ballistic examination is being undertaken to confirm this.”

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A friend reported a brief conversation he had with the taxi driver the night before the massacre, which ended with Bird warning: “You won’t see me again.”

Bird is said to have fallen out with fellow taxi drivers after he believed they had taken work from him. One colleague, who did not want to be named, said: “All of the taxi drivers were friends. But I heard last night there was an argument on the taxi rank.

“I don’t know what caused it, but something must have happened last night. Derrick Bird took off in his car and went home. I don’t know what time of night it was.”

David Cameron pledged to do everything possible to help communities “shattered” by the killing spree. Speaking at the start of Prime Minister’s Questions, he said: “The government will do everything it possibly can to help the local community and those affected”.

The home secretary, Theresa May, said the events were “very serious and tragic”. “Our thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims of these shootings. “It’s a terrible incident that has taken place in Cumbria today, but I would like to pay tribute to the way in which the police and emergency services have worked very closely together to deal with this incident. It is the third tragedy to hit west Cumbria in six months, following the devastating floods last year and the deaths of three people, including two schoolchildren, in a coach crash on the A66 last week.”

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Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team. The best way to sign up for The Green Transition is via spotlightonpolicy.substack.com
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