Streets deserted after Cumbrian shootings

By Caroline Henderson
BBC News in Whitehaven

image captionDuke Street in Whitehaven was the scene of the first shooting

The streets of Whitehaven in Cumbria were almost deserted as the community struggled to come to terms with the terrifying moment a gunman went on a shooting rampage which begun in their quiet town.

The area around Duke Street, where the first shots were fired, was cordoned off and many of the businesses nearby closed their doors hours earlier.

The number of journalists and television crews outnumbered pedestrians in Whitehaven, which is usually a peaceful coastal tourist town.

The few residents that were wandering the streets were keen to talk to the media, wanting to express their utter disbelief at the horror which had unfolded on their doorstep.

A picturesque church overlooked Duke Street, the scene of terror just hours previously.

Many in Whitehaven were still mourning the death of two schoolchildren in a coach crash last week when the horrific shootings happened.

'Resilient' community

Others were still getting over the floods that devastated part of the county in November.

Louise Bowes, who has lived in Whitehaven all of her life, said: "We said things come in threes.

"We had the floods, then the tragic bus crash, now this."

image captionPolice have cordoned off parts of Whitehaven

Ms Bowes, 27, was working at The Gallery hair and beauty salon, overlooking Duke Street, when the gunman opened fire.

"We had people trying to get in the shop but we have to just keep it locked," she said.

"All we knew was that police were looking for a man. We were scared."

Resident Robert Telford, 43, said: "This is one of the worst things ever to happen here.

"The streets are so quiet because we are all a little bit frightened, a little bit scared.

"People say it comes in threes, but you would never think something like this could happen here."

Rev John Bannister, rector for the Whitehaven parish, described the community as resilient, but added the day's events would haunt them for some time.

"It's been a real trauma for the whole community and will continue to be for a long while to come," he said.

"The closeness and strength of the community will undoubtedly help the community to slowly come to terms and move forward, but it's going to be a very painful process."

Ellen Neen, 58, said: "It's awful, I still feel frightened.

"We've never seen anything like this before. People are still trying to get on with life after the bus crash last week."