Gunman on loose after killings in English town: police

2nd June 2010, Comments 0 comments

A gunman killed a number of people in a tourist area of northwest England on Wednesday and then escaped sparking a major police manhunt, a spokesman said.

Residents were warned to take shelter after at least one person was killed in the coastal town of Whitehaven on the edge of the Lake District, popular with hikers and climbers.

In fast-moving events, shooting incidents were also reported in the nearby towns of Egremont and Seascale, police said.

"There are a number of fatalities... ambulance crews are in attendance across the area," said a spokesman for Cumbria Constabulary, adding that the gunman "was last seen heading south in the Central Lakes direction."

Local radio reported that at least four people had died.

Police said the man had abandoned his car in a rural area inland from Whitehaven, and "is now believed to be travelling by foot.

"Police who are in pursuit of him are urging members of the public ... to shelter indoors until further notice," the spokesman said.

Police issued a photo of the man they were seeking, named as Derrick Bird, 52, warning people to keep away from him.

One witness said the gunman drove up alongside him at traffic lights by Whitehaven police station.

"As I turned past the police station, I saw all these officers running out and realised something major was going on," Alan Hannah, 68, of Great Broughton, told the Whitehaven News.

"I saw a man with a large shotgun and his windscreen was smashed. I drove through the red light to get... out of the way. I got home safely but was very shaken."

Police added: "Officers are also asking walkers and tourists in that area to be vigilant, take extra care and head indoors if at all possible. If any members of the public see Derrick Bird, please do not approach him."

© 2010 AFP

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