Berkshire

Hungerford offers help after Cumbria shootings

Michael Ryan
Image caption Michael Ryan's mother was among his victims

Authorities in Berkshire have contacted their counterparts in Whitehaven to offer their support after 12 people were shot dead in Cumbria.

Wednesday's shootings by Derrick Bird echoed the massacre carried out by Michael Ryan who shot 16 people in Hungerford in 1987.

Hungerford Town Council and West Berkshire Council have offered help to authorities in Cumbria.

Former mayor Ron Tarry said the events brought back "painful memories".

Shot mother

He said the town has become synonymous with the shootings and he feared Whitehaven could suffer the same fate.

Mr Tarry also said Hungerford was taken aback when donations of more than £1m were made in the aftermath and believed the same will happen in Cumbria.

Image caption Derrick Bird worked as a taxi driver

He added: "It did bring back painful memories because it all sounded too much like Michael Ryan.

"On that first day it was just absolutely numb but the next day people thought something has to be done.

"There was a great community spirit which I'm sure there will be in Whitehaven and people wanted to help.

"Hungerford was quite a small town, like Whitehaven, and that spirit must be kept together.

"People didn't want to talk about it in the immediate aftermath... it is a part of our history that they are not particularly proud of."

Mr Ryan, a 27-year-old unemployed labourer, killed 16 people, including his own mother, before shooting himself in the head.

His motive for the killings was never established.

It is being reported that Mr Bird, 52, who also shot himself, may have been involved in a dispute over a will.

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