One of the UK’s most popular tourist destinations, the Lake District, has been left shattered after a crazed gunman went on the rampage, killing at least twelve people, including his mother, and injuring 25 others, before turning the gun on himself.
Police have named the gunman as self-employed taxi driver, Derrick Bird, 52, from the local village of Rowrah.
Armed with two weapons - a .22 rifle and a shotgun - Bird drove down the coast from Whitehaven where the first attacks took place, leaving a trail of carnage in his wake.
Locals as well as tourists staying in the area were warned to stay indoors as police followed the deadly route, discovering more bodies as they went. At one point Bird abandoned his Citroen Picasso for another car which he then crashed near woods in the picturesque Lake District town of Boot. The body of Bird together with his guns were found nearby.
Throughout the afternoon witnesses came forward with harrowing tales of the trail of destruction left by Bird.
A Police spokesman said: “He was last seen heading south in the Central Lakes direction.”
“He may have abandoned the car and be proceeding on foot. Armed police are currently working to apprehend him and advising members of the public in West and Central Lakes areas to go indoors and stay there until further notice.”
He added that officers are working to establish the identities of those killed and wounded.
Witnesses report hearing a number of gun shots in the town of Whitehaven in the morning.
Helen Owens, who works at solicitors’ practice Brockbank, Cain and Hall on Duke Street in Whitehaven, said one of her colleagues saw a dead man on the street.
She said: “We heard a couple of gunshots and the police running about. 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.
“We have also heard there was another shooting at Morrisons car park, which is about five minutes away. We have the door locked.”