Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Cumbria horror as people flee gunman's path

A police woman stands guard beside an unidentified body outside the Red Admiral pub on June 02, 2010 in the Seascale area, England

Eyewitnesses described their horror as they fled the Cumbria gunman's path and watched bodies litter the streets.

Shaken members of the public reported seeing the killer peering from behind the smashed windscreen of his car, his shotgun poking out through the broken window.

Others described the aftermath of his attack, with victims lying dead where they were shot, their faces covered with blankets.

Alan Hannah, 68, of Great Broughton, described what he saw in Whitehaven. He told the Whitehaven News: "As I turned past the police station, I saw all these officers running out and realised something major was going on so I moved over to the right-hand lane.

"Then a car pulled up on the left, stopping at the lights. I saw a man with a large shotgun and his windscreen was smashed. I drove through the red light to get into Lowther Street and get out of the way. I got home safely but was very shaken."

Others said they saw the gunman - 52-year-old taxi driver Derrick Bird - as he made his way on his deadly road trip.

Glenda Pears, who runs L&G Taxis, knew Mr Bird and was close to the location of the initial shooting.

She said a female taxi driver working for her had to swerve to avoid Mr Bird's car immediately after the incident.

She said: "He was driving and she saw the gun. She was hysterical and had to pull over and stop. The gun was hanging out of the window."

Ms Pears added: "We are just numb at the moment. We just want to know what he's done it for."

The first shooting took place on Duke Street, Whitehaven, close to where Helen Owens works at solicitors Brockbank, Cain and Hall.

Ms Owens said: "One of our secretaries was out at the time and she saw a guy lying dead on the ground covered with a sheet - she saw his trainers sticking out."

It was a similar scene elsewhere along the killer's route.

A woman who lives in nearby Egremont said she saw a body lying on a road bridge in the town.

The resident, who did not want to be named, said: "One of them is lying down on the bridge. We suspect it's a man but the body is covered up now.

"It was about 11.15 and we heard this bang. I looked up and there was a couple of cars on the bridge so we just thought it had been a collision.

"It was only when a neighbour came and said 'someone has been shot' that I heard."

An Egremont resident described finding the body of another of Bird's victims - a woman in her 60s carrying shopping bags - outside his house.

Billy Boakes, 23, did not see the shooting but heard two gunshots at about 11am.

He said: "I thought nothing of it at first, I thought it was just a trailer banging as it went down the lane, but then I looked out the front window two minutes later and saw a car and a push bike parked up and thought there had been an accident.

"I went outside and saw the body of the woman lying outside my house."

Schoolgirl Ashley Gastor was walking along a quiet road in Whitehaven when Bird's car pulled up.

The 15-year-old told The Sun: "He was pointing a gun at me through the window.

"I put my hands over my head and ducked down to protect myself, and the gun was fired.

"I felt the bullet go past my ponytail. Then I ran down the hill and he fired another shot."

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