Seascale, England A taxi driver drove his vehicle on a shooting spree across a tranquil stretch of northwest England on Wednesday, methodically killing 12 people and wounding 25 others before turning the gun on himself, officials said.
The rampage in the county of Cumbria 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, 52-year-old Derrick Bird, was found in woods near Boot, a hamlet popular with hikers and vacationers in England’s hilly, scenic Lake District. Police said two weapons were recovered from the scene.
Eight of the wounded were in the hospital, with three of them in critical condition. In a sign of the scale of the tragedy, Queen Elizabeth II issued a message saying she was “deeply shocked” and shared in “the grief and horror of the whole country.” She passed on her sympathy to the families of the victims.
The shootings had “shocked the people of Cumbria and around the country to the core,” Police Deputy Chief Constable Stuart Hyde said.
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 cab drivers the night before the killings.
Peter Leder, a taxi driver who knew Bird, said he had seen the gunman Tuesday and didn’t notice anything that was obviously 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.