Video: Detectives search for clues in U.K. rampage

  1. Transcript of: Detectives search for clues in U.K. rampage

    NATALIE MORALES, anchor: Detectives in England are searching for a motive in Wednesday's shooting rampage by a taxi driver that left at least 13 people dead, including the gunman. NBC 's Stephanie Gosk is in Cumbria , England . Stephanie , good morning.

    STEPHANIE GOSK reporting: Good morning, Natalie . Well, this is a sleepy, scenic region with the lowest crime rate in the UK . In just four hours, a 52-year-old taxi driver changed everything.

    ...rampage in his hometown, killing his twin bother. The next stop was White Haven where he drove a taxi for 23 years. Just after 10:30 in the morning, Derrick Bird pulled up here to this taxi stand and unloaded his weapon on a co-worker. The other drivers say the two had not been getting along. Richard Murray saw the whole thing.

    Mr. RICHARD MURRAY: He was holding the gun and it just -- he was down on the floor of the car and just played dead for a while.

    GOSK: Other drivers say he'd been acting strangely but no one believed it could lead to this.

    Unidentified Woman: I ran out the shop and I seen the guy that had been shot laying on the road and then the guy with the gun ran past me.

    GOSK: A manhunt was launched and a warning broadcast, but not everyone heard it, like the retired man shot dead while out for a bike ride, or the young rugby playing helping his father on a nearby farm. Bird , it seemed, was shooting at anyone that caught his eye.

    Unidentified Man: The traffic lights were on red, I pulled up, looked to my left and all I saw was this man with a gun.

    GOSK: Police say there are 30 separate crime scenes, 12 people are dead, 25 wounded. After a four-hour manhunt, they found him. Bird fired the last shot at himself. The father of two was known as quiet and friendly. Even psychiatrists don't understand how a seemingly normal guy like this could snap and kill so many, Natalie .

    MORALES: Oh, the horrific scene there. Stephanie Gosk in Cumbria , England , thank you.

updated 6/3/2010 12:12:58 PM ET 2010-06-03T16:12:58

British detectives sought a motive Thursday behind a taxi driver's murderous rampage across a tranquil part of rural England, which left 12 people dead and 11 wounded before the gunman committed suicide.

More than 100 detectives were scrutinizing why Derrick Bird, 52, went on a three-hour shooting spree Wednesday in the northwestern county of Cumbria, blasting many of his victims in the face with a shotgun or a rifle.

Some reports said Bird had argued with fellow cab drivers the night before the killings; others suggested a family dispute. But Cumbria police did not disclose a motive and urged patience, saying the investigation is "a difficult and slow process."

The killing spree was Britain's deadliest mass shooting since 1996, and it jolted a country where handguns are banned and multiple shootings rare.

Eight of the wounded remained hospitalized Thursday, with four listed in stable condition and the other four in good condition.

Charles Brett, clinical director of emergency care at West Cumberland Hospital, said five of the wounded treated there had been shot in the face.

"There's a predominance of facial injuries in what we've seen," he said. "More than 50 percent of those who survived had some form of facial injury."

Twin, lawyer reportedly slain
Police identified one of the dead as Bird's twin brother, David, as well as Kevin Commons, a lawyer who did work for Bird's family.

The first shootings were reported Wednesday morning in the coastal town of Whitehaven, about 350 miles northwest of London. Police warned residents to stay indoors as they tracked the gunman's progress across the county.

Witnesses described seeing the gunman driving around shooting from his car window. Police said there were 30 separate crime scenes.

Cumbria Police
David Bird, the shooter's twin brother.
Bird's body was found in woods near Boot, a hamlet popular with hikers and vacationers in England's hilly, scenic Lake District. Police said a shotgun and a .22-caliber rifle fitted with a telescopic sight were recovered from the scene. Officials confirmed Bird held licenses for both weapons.

'Waving a shotgun'
In Whitehaven, groups of residents gathered at the local market to remember those who died — and recount tales of near-misses.

Michael Murray, who is also a taxi driver, was standing near the front of cab stand when Bird, known affectionately as "Birdie," first approached.

"I saw Birdie pull up beside me and he was waving a shotgun out of the window," Murray said. "I ducked to the floor before I could see if he was pointing at me.

"I always got on with Birdie, he had no grudges against me, I suppose that's what saved me. He was a sound guy and a private guy."

June Lamb, a housewife, said she knew Bird "very well."

"Derrick didn't mix with people very much," she said. "He was very quiet, but not a loner as such. He would lark about with people."

Tight gun laws
Prime Minister David Cameron, who plans to visit the area Friday, said he ruled out any quick review of Britain's stringent gun laws as a result of the killings. Ownership of rifles and shotguns is tightly regulated, and license holders undergo police and medical record checks, Cameron said.

"You can't legislate to stop a switch flicking in someone's head and this kind of dreadful event taking place," Cameron said.

Rules on gun ownership were tightened after two massacres. In 1987, gun enthusiast Michael Ryan killed 16 people in the English town of Hungerford. In 1996, Thomas Hamilton killed 16 children and a teacher at a primary school in Dunblane, Scotland.

In recent years, there have been fewer than 100 gun murders annually across Britain; in 2008-2009 there were 39.

'I won't see you again'
J. Reid Meloy, a forensic psychologist and adjunct professor at the University of California, San Diego, said most mass killers have spent considerable time formulating their plan.

Though they are harboring murderous intent, they appear to be living their lives normally until the attack happens. Often, friends or investigators will look back at the killer's final days and see a dropped hint about what was being planned.

Image: Derrick Bird
Cumbria Police via AP
An undated photo of suspected gunman Derrick Bird, released by Cumbria Police.
"There's likely to be leakage, some communication to a third party about an intent to do this kind of killing," Meloy said. "But people who have access to the leakage tend to minimize it or deny it. It is such an unusual or abhorrent event, they don't believe the person is going to do it."

Peter Leder, a taxi driver who knew Bird, said he had seen the gunman Tuesday and didn't notice anything that was obviously amiss. But he was struck by Bird's departing words.

"When he left he said, 'See you Peter, but I won't see you again,'" Leder told Channel 4 News.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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