Cumbria shootings: Witness reports


Witnesses have been reliving events in Cumbria, where 12 people were killed and 11 injured after gunman Derrick Bird went on the rampage on Wednesday.

Bird fired shots in a string of locations across the county, before turning the gun on himself near the village of Boot.

Holiday makers, Lee and Zoe Turner

Lee, Zoe and their two boys may have been the last people to see Derrick Bird before he killed himself.

Lee: "I was with my wife and two boys aged three and four. We were on one side of a river and my wife, Zoe, was on the opposite bank taking our picture. We were in a place called Doctor Bridge, near Boot.

"There was a small bridge over the river. I heard a loud scraping noise and saw a car swerving across the bridge. Two walkers had to move out of its way.

"I went to make sure the driver was OK, he looked dazed and disorientated. The walkers asked if he was all right and he made it clear that he didn't want any help.

"A rifle with large scope was on the passenger seat, although to me it looked like a sporting air rifle. At the time I thought he might have been out hunting and had a few drinks because he seemed shifty and was anxious not to draw attention to himself.

"I didn't feel I was in danger but I did feel uncomfortable."

Zoe: "The driver then came back to us with his rifle in his arm.

"My instinct was to get my boys safe. I felt terrified. When I looked into his face, which was red and flustered, I felt sick with fear.

"He saw my look of terror and his expression changed, he said 'it's all right' and moved away. He didn't want me to be scared.

"Neither myself or Lee slept well last night knowing that we might have been the last people to see him alive."

Schoolgirl Ashley Gastor

Ashley, 15, told reporters that when Bird's car pulled up, as she was walking along a quiet road in Whitehaven, she expected him to ask directions.

Image caption,
Bird's actions have left the people of Whitehaven in shock

"He was pointing a gun at me through the window," she said.

"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.

"I was terrified but I was happy at the same time that he'd missed me.

"There was only me on the road at the time - me and his car - so I ran down to my sister's house, crying."

Cyclist Barrie Moss

Mr Moss said he was cycling home from Egremont when the gunman looked straight at him, before driving away and leaving a woman dying in the street.

He rounded a corner to find a taxi parked with the driver's door open and a man staring up at the hill, 20 feet away.

"He turned around and stared at me and he had this absolutely huge sniper rifle," said Mr Moss.

"It was almost touching the floor, massive scope and everything.

"He scurried into the car and drove off and that's when I saw on the floor behind the car there was a woman lying down with bags of shopping and a handbag.

"There was a younger woman pushing a pram up the hill and she stopped about 10 feet away and just screamed. She said [the other women] had been shot.

"I phoned the police straight away. [As] a friend of mine... got next to her, he said there was blood all over her.

"She was still breathing but she was unconscious. Five minutes later she just stopped breathing."

Whitehaven resident Barry McAleavy

Barry McAleavy was in his garden when he heard an "almighty bang" and a woman screaming. He went to the front to find a taxi stationary in the road.

"Across the road there was a lady and I presume a taxi driver heading down a side passage between a house," he said.

"About 10 seconds after that a policeman followed them. Then I saw the back of a car speeding away up Coach Road, where I live. There was a police van following it.

"There was a taxi in the street with its window blown out. The lady was screaming, she was white as a sheet and the man's hand and the side of his face were covered in blood.

"The paramedics came and then police in boiler suits cordoned off the area and we were all told to stay indoors.

"I've lived in Whitehaven all of my life, it's a lovely little town. You just don't expect this."

Sellafield process worker Gary Bound

Lifelong Whitehaven resident Gary Bound, 37, described hearing shots as he and his two children went to a hairdresser in the town.

"We heard two really loud bangs. At the time we laughed because we thought it was an exhaust backfiring," he said.

"We went into the hairdresser and about two minutes later someone came running in saying that someone had been shot in the face.

"The police were there in about five minutes. The man was already covered when we saw him.

"We had to walk past him to get home. All I wanted to do was to put my kids in the car and get home. I was standing next to where he was lying.

"The Tesco security guards were there too, helping redirect the traffic."

Seascale villager John Cook

John Cook said he was visiting the doctor at about 1130 BST when he saw three dead bodies along one street.

"I went into Seascale and saw a body lying half on the pavement, half on the road," he said.

"I thought a person had just collapsed. Then I went another 50, 60 or 70 yards further on and saw a cyclist. It looked as if something had happened to them, there was a blanket over that person.

"I went around the corner and a Range Rover was stopped, blocking the path through to the one track under the railway bridge. It looked as if somebody had been shot in that vehicle.

"The next thing I saw was the doctor arrive and the nurses. This is a quiet area and nothing like this has happened before."

Frizington resident Julian Kirkley

Julian Kirkley had been due to attend the funeral of Frizington teenager Chloe Walker, who was among three people to die in a coach crash on 24 May - her 16th birthday.

"The funeral cortege was due to pass through through at 1130 BST," he said.

"I was with villagers lining the road when we were alerted to something going on by the sheer number of police cars that came screaming through the village.

"The fourth one stopped and said 'There's been shootings in Whitehaven and Seascale and you need to go indoors.'

"I was speaking to my next door neighbour. She's lived here all her life and knows the Bird family very well. She's completely surprised."

Local businessman Peter Watson

Peter Watson arrived in Whitehaven moments after one of the shootings.

"When I first got here, it must have just happened," he said.

"A woman said 'A man's just been shot around the corner' - I had a quick look and there was a man lying on the ground with the police stood over him with a jacket over his face.

"I'm actually from London, I came here five years ago and I've never seen anything like this whatsoever."