Cumbria shootings

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Cumbria shootings
Whitehaven area 1 in 250 000 scale.png
Western Cumbria
Location Copeland, Cumbria, England, UK
Date 2 June 2010 (2010-06-02)
c. 10:20 a.m.-c. 2:00 p.m.
Attack type
Spree shooting, murder-suicide
Deaths 13 (including perpetrator)[3]
Non-fatal injuries
Perpetrator Derrick Bird

The Cumbria shootings was a killing spree that occurred on 2 June 2010 when a lone gunman, Derrick Bird, killed 12 people and injured 11 others before killing himself in Cumbria, England. Along with the 1987 Hungerford massacre, 1989 Monkseaton shootings and the 1996 Dunblane massacre, it is one of the worst criminal acts involving firearms in British history.

The series of attacks began in mid-morning in Lamplugh[4] and moved to Frizington, Whitehaven, Egremont, Gosforth and Seascale, sparking a major manhunt by the Cumbria Constabulary, with assistance from Civil Nuclear Constabulary officers.[5]

Bird, a 52-year-old local taxi driver, was later found dead in a forested area, having abandoned his vehicle in the village of Boot. Two weapons that appeared to have been used in the shootings were recovered. There were 30 different crime scenes investigated, and police confirmed it was the worst shooting incident in Britain since the Dunblane massacre of 1996, in which 18 people died.[6]

Queen Elizabeth II paid tribute to the victims and the Prince of Wales later visited Whitehaven in the wake of the tragedy. Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May also visited West Cumbria. A memorial fund has been set up to aid victims and affected communities.


Targeted killings
1. David Bird, 52, killed at Lamplugh, twin brother of the gunman.
2. Kevin Commons, 60, killed at Frizington, gunman's family solicitor.
3. Darren Rewcastle, 43, killed at Whitehaven, fellow taxi driver known to the gunman.
Random killings
4. Susan Hughes, 57, killed at Egremont.
5. Kenneth Fishburn, 71, killed at Egremont.
6. Jennifer Jackson, 68, killed at Wilton, wife of James Jackson.
7. James Jackson, 67, killed at Wilton, husband of Jennifer Jackson.
8. Isaac Dixon, 65, killed at Carleton.
9. Garry Purdham, 31, killed at Gosforth, brother of former England rugby league player Rob Purdham.
10. Jamie Clark, 23, killed at Seascale.
11. Michael Pike, 64, killed at Seascale.
12. Jane Robinson, 66, killed at Seascale.
13. Derrick Bird, 52, suicide at Boot.

Targeted shootings[edit]

In the early hours of 2 June, Bird left his home in Rowrah and drove his Citroën Xsara Picasso to his twin brother David's home in Lamplugh, where he shot him eleven times in the head and body, killing him. He then went to Frizington, arriving at the home of the family solicitor, Kevin Commons, whom he prevented from leaving before firing twice with a double-barreled shotgun, hitting Commons once in the shoulder. Commons staggered onto the driveway of his home, where Bird killed him with another single gunshot to the head.[7][8][9] At 10:20 BST, the police were telephoned. Bird then moved on toward Whitehaven.[10]

At 10:33, Bird drove to a taxi rank on Duke Street, Whitehaven, where he opened fire on several people.[3][1][7] Four taxi drivers were hit by the gunfire: Darren Rewcastle, Don Reid, Paul Wilson, and Terry Kennedy.[7] Rewcastle, who was known to Bird, was the only person to die in Whitehaven, being shot at point-blank range.[7][8]

Random shootings[edit]

Soon after killing Rewcastle, Bird drove onto Coach Road and fired his shotgun at a passing taxi, injuring the male driver and the female passenger.[7] Residents in the towns of Whitehaven, Egremont and Seascale were immediately urged to stay indoors.[11] Bird proceeded to drive through several local towns, firing apparently at random, calling over a majority of the victims to his taxi before shooting them. In Egremont, Bird killed Kenneth Fishburn on a bridge, and then fatally shot Susan Hughes in the head and chest as she walked home from shopping.[7][8]

He then travelled to the village of Wilton, where he tried to visit Jason Carey, a member of a diving club that Bird was also in, but left when Carey's wife came to the door. Soon after, he shot Jennifer Jackson once with his shotgun and twice with his rifle, killing her, then also fatally shot her husband James and wounded a woman named Christine Hunter, who was visiting the Jacksons. This was followed by Isaac Dixon, a mole-catcher who was talking to a farmer in a field at Carleton when he was fatally shot.[7][8] A former semi-professional rugby league player, Garry Purdham, was soon shot and killed while working outside the Red Admiral Hotel at Boonwood, near Gosforth.[7][8][12]

Bird then drove into Seascale, where he shot a motorist named Jamie Clark, who died, although it was not clear at first whether he died from gunshot wounds or the resultant car crash.[7][8] After shooting and injuring another motorist named Harry Berger, he killed Michael Pike, a retired man who was bicycling down a street. Seconds later, Bird fatally shot Jane Robinson on the same street at point-blank range.[7]

Search for the suspect, suspect's suicide[edit]

At 11:33, Police Constables Phillip Lewis and Andrew Laverack spotted Bird as his car passed by their vehicle. They attempted to pursue him, but were delayed in roadworks and lost sight of him a minute later. Soon afterwards, Bird drove to Eskdale Valley where he opened fire on seven people, hitting and wounding four. He then abandoned his car when it ran out of fuel at a beauty spot, called Doctor Bridge, near the village of Boot. A family of four that was nearby offered assistance to Bird, but were quickly turned down and advised to leave.[7][13] Bird was last seen alive at 12:30; shortly after 12:30, police confirmed that there had been a number of fatalities and that they were searching for a suspect. Police later announced they were searching for the driver of a dark-grey Citroën Xsara Picasso,[3] driven by the suspect identified as Bird.[9]

At 14:00, Deputy Chief Constable Stuart Hyde[14] announced that a body, believed to be that of Bird, had been found in a wooded area, along with a rifle. Police confirmed shortly afterwards that members of the public who had previously taken shelter during the incident could now resume their normal activities.[9][15]

During the manhunt, the gates of the nearby Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant were closed as a precaution, and the afternoon shift was told not to come to work. This was the first lock-down in the history of the plant.[3]


At 15:00, Prime Minister David Cameron, taking his first session of Prime Minister's Questions, announced that "at least five" people had died, including the gunman.[16] Later that evening, a police press conference in Whitehaven announced that 12 people had been killed, that a further 11 people were injured, and that the suspect had killed himself. They also confirmed that two weapons (a double-barrelled shotgun and a .22-calibre rifle with a scope and silencer) had been used by the suspect in the attacks and that thirty different crime scenes were being investigated.[3]

Over the next few hours, Bird's shooting of his brother and solicitor was revealed. The police stated that the shootings took place along a 15-mile (24 km) stretch of the Cumbrian coastline.[13] Helicopters from neighbouring police forces were used in the manhunt,[3] while those from the RAF Search and Rescue Force and the Yorkshire Air Ambulance responded to casualties. A major incident was declared by North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust at West Cumberland Hospital, Whitehaven, with the accident and emergency department at the Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle, on full incident stand-by.[3]

Bird had been a licensed firearms holder and the incident sparked debate about further gun control in the United Kingdom; the previous Dunblane and Hungerford shootings had led to increased firearms controls.[17]


Derrick Bird
Born (1957-11-27)27 November 1957[18]
Whitehaven, Cumbria[19]
Died 2 June 2010(2010-06-02) (aged 52)
Boot, Cumbria
Occupation Taxi driver
Criminal status
Children 2 sons

Derrick Bird (born 27 November 1957) was a son of Joseph (1916–1998) and Mary Bird. He had a twin brother, David (1957–2010) and an older brother.[20] He lived alone[21] in Rowrah,[22] and had two sons with a woman from whom he separated in the mid-1990s. He became a grandfather in May 2010,[23] and was variously described as a popular and quiet man who worked as a self-employed[22] taxi driver in Whitehaven.[21] There are unconfirmed reports that he had previously sought help from a local hospital due to his fragile mental state.[24] Bird had held a shotgun certificate since 1974 and had renewed it several times, most recently in 2005, and had held a firearms certificate for a rifle from 2007 onwards.[25][26] He was being investigated by HM Revenue and Customs.[27] The body of Bird was formally identified at Furness General Hospital in Barrow-in-Furness,[28] and he was cremated at a private service on 18 June 2010.[29]

Possible motives[edit]

There has been speculation that Bird may have had a grudge against people associated with the Sellafield nuclear power plant that he worked for as a joiner, resigning in 1990 due to an allegation of theft of wood from the plant. He was subsequently convicted, and given a 12 month suspended sentence.[30] Three of the dead were former employees although there is no evidence that any were involved with his resignation.[31]

A fellow taxi driver, who described himself as one of Bird's best friends, and was wounded by Bird, has claimed that Bird had a relationship with a Thai girl he met on holiday in Pattaya, Thailand. It has been further claimed by another friend of Bird that he had sent £1,000 to the girl, who subsequently ended their relationship via a text message; he added that Bird had been "made a fool out of".[32]

It has also been speculated that Bird had been involved with a family dispute over his father's will. The speculation was heightened when it was revealed that Bird had targeted both his twin, David, and the family's solicitor, Kevin Commons, in his attacks, killing both.[33]

Police investigating the killings have also found that Bird was the subject of an ongoing tax investigation by HM Revenue and Customs for tax evasion and the threat of possible future prosecution and punishment might have contributed to his action.[34] According to Mark Cooper, a fellow taxi driver who had known him for 15 years, Bird had accumulated £60,000 in a secret bank account and was worried he would be sent to prison for hiding the cash from HM Revenue & Customs.[35]


Official responses and visits[edit]

Prime Minister David Cameron was joined by several other MPs in expressing the House of Commons members' shock and horror at the events during Prime Minister's Questions.[36]

On the evening of 2 June, the Queen said she was "deeply shocked" by the shootings and shared the nation's "grief and horror".[37]

The Home Secretary, Theresa May MP, expressed her regret at the deaths and paid tribute to the response of the emergency services. The Cabinet met to discuss the shootings and May later made a statement on the Cumbria incident to the House of Commons on 3 June 2010.[38] Cameron and May visited the affected region on 4 June 2010 to meet victims, officials and local people.[39]

Jamie Reed, the local Member of Parliament for Copeland, called the incident the "blackest day in our community's history".[40]

Prince Charles visited Whitehaven on 11 June 2010 to meet members of the community affected by the tragedy.[41]


BBC One altered their programming to broadcast two BBC News Specials about the shootings, at 14:15 and 19:30 on the same day.[42] The ITV continuing drama, Coronation Street was cancelled on 2, 3 and 4 June as it contained a violent storyline featuring a gun siege in a factory. The episodes were rescheduled to run the following week.[43][44] An episode of the Channel 4 panel game You Have Been Watching, which was due to be broadcast on 3 June 2010, was postponed because it was a crime special.[45] In addition, pop singer Lady Gaga came under criticism after performing a murder scene at her concert in Manchester – as part of her Monster Ball Tour – just hours after the massacre.[46] Comedian Frankie Boyle also attracted criticism for referring to the Cumbria tragedy on the day after the massacre.[47] The Times journalist Giles Coren suggested Derrick Bird should read a copy of his book on anger management. He later apologised. Both Coren's initial remark and subsequent apology were made on his Twitter feed.[48]


On 9 June 2010, a week after the incident, memorial services were held in the West Cumbria towns affected by the shootings followed by a minute's silence at midday. Soon after the minute's silence taxi drivers on Duke St. sounded their horns for one minute to show their respect. The minute's silence for the Cumbria victims was also marked prior to David Cameron's second Prime Minister's Questions in Parliament.[49] The funerals of the majority of Bird's victims were held at various churches in West Cumbria.[50][51]

Memorial fund[edit]

A memorial fund has been established by the Cumbria Community Foundation to aid victims and communities affected by the West Cumbria shootings.[52]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Wardrup, Murray (2 June 2010). "Cumbria shooting: police hunt gunman after 'several shot dead'". Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2 June 2010. 
  2. ^ Arnold, Adam (2 June 2010). "Cumbria Killing Spree: Probe Into Family Feud". Sky News. Retrieved 2 June 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Cumbria shooting rampage suspect's 'body found'". BBC News. 2 June 2010. Retrieved 2 June 2010. 
  4. ^ "Cumbria Shootings – Interactive Map". BBC News. 3 June 2010. Retrieved 4 June 2010. 
  5. ^ Bowcott, Owen; Syal, Rajeev; Lewis, Paul; Davies, Caroline (4 June 2010). "Cumbria shootings: A frantic pursuit before police found the killer's body". The Guardian (London). 
  6. ^ BBC News Special, BBC One, 2 April 2010
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Cumbria shootings: Timeline of Derrick Bird's rampage"
  8. ^ a b c d e f Rowley, Emma (3 June 2010). "Cumbria Shootings: Derrick Bird's Victims". Sky News. Retrieved 3 June 2010. 
  9. ^ a b c "Gunman kills 12 people in Cumbria rampage". BBC News. 2 June 2010. Retrieved 2 June 2010. 
  10. ^ "Family dispute theory over Cumbria rampage". BBC News. 3 June 2010. Retrieved 3 June 2010. 
  11. ^ Meikle, James (2 June 2010). "Gunman sought after person shot dead and several injured in Whitehaven". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2 June 2010. 
  12. ^ "Cumbria shootings: The victims named". The Whitehaven News (CN Group). 4 June 2010. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  13. ^ a b Fresco, Adam (2 June 2010). "Police identify man wanted over drive-by shootings in Cumbria". The Times (London). Retrieved 2 June 2010. 
  14. ^ "Biography – Deputy Chief Constable – Stuart Hyde". Cumbria Constabulary. Retrieved 2 June 2010. 
  15. ^ "Urgent public message: shots fired in Whitehaven". Cumbria Constabulary. 2 June 2010. Archived from the original on 2 June 2010. 
  16. ^ Weaver, Matthew (2 June 2010). "Whitehaven shooting – live updates". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2 June 2010. 
  17. ^ Casciani, Dominic (3 June 2010). "Gun control and ownership laws in the UK". BBC News. Retrieved 3 June 2010. 
  18. ^ Sims, Paul (1 March 2011). "Gunman Derrick Bird shot his own brother 11 times before gunning down 11 strangers: Full horror of the massacre in Cumbria is revealed". Daily Mail (London). 
  19. ^ "Births and Deaths England and Wales 1837–2006". Retrieved 26 June 2010. 
  20. ^ Swaine, Jon (2 June 2010). "Telegraph profile". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 26 June 2010. 
  21. ^ a b "Profile: Whitehaven gunman Derrick Bird". Channel 4 News. 2 June 2010. Retrieved 1 March 2011. 
  22. ^ a b Naughton, Philippe; O’Neill, Sean (2 June 2010). "Cumbria gunman Derrick Bird kills at least 12 in rampage". Times (London). 
  23. ^ Collins, Nick (3 June 2010). "Derrick Bird licensed to carry guns". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 26 June 2010. 
  24. ^ "Taxi gunman Derrick Bird goes on killing rampage in Cumbria in the Lake District of England, killing 12 and injuring 25". Herald Sun. 2 June 2010. Retrieved 2 June 2010. 
  25. ^ "Cumbria gunman correctly issued with weapon licences". BBC News. 2 November 2010. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  26. ^ "Derrick Bird had family row night before killing spree, admits relative". The Daily Telegraph (London). 4 June 2010. Retrieved 26 June 2010. 
  27. ^ "Police seize killer's paperwork". BBC News. 6 June 2010. Retrieved 6 June 2010. 
  28. ^ "Inquests opened into Cumbrian shooting deaths". Whitehaven News. Retrieved 25 October 2010. 
  29. ^ BBC News 18 June 2010
  30. ^ "BBC profile". BBC News. 3 June 2010. Retrieved 26 June 2010. 
  31. ^ "Cumbria shootings: Derrick Bird left Sellafield after theft claims". The Daily Telegraph (London). 5 June 2010. 
  32. ^ Rebecca Lefort (6 June 2010). "Cumbria gunman Derrick Bird 'dumped by Thai lover after sending £1,000'". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  33. ^ "Family dispute theory over Cumbria rampage" BBC news. Retrieved 7 June.
  34. ^ "Cumbria killer Derrick Bird 'probed over tax" BBC news. Retrieved 7 June.
  35. ^ "Derrick Bird had tax worries, claims fellow taxi driver" The Guardian, date 4 June 2010. Retrieved 7 June.
  36. ^ "Prime Minister's questions: David Cameron's debut 2010". BBC News. 2 June 2010. Retrieved 4 June 2010. 
  37. ^ Helen Carter, Severin Carrell and Caroline Davies (2 June 2010). "Cumbria shootings: 12 dead as gunman goes on killing spree". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 2 June 2010. 
  38. ^ "Home Secretary makes statement on events in Cumbria". Home Office. 2 June 2010. Retrieved 3 June 2010. 
  39. ^ Cumbria shootings: David Cameron meets survivors of Derrick Bird's rampage Telegraph, 4 June 2010
  40. ^ Robert Winnett, Gordon Rayner and Richard Edwards (2 June 2010). "UK shooting leaves 12 dead and 25 injured". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 3 June 2010. [dead link]
  41. ^ Whitehaven News 11 June 2010
  42. ^ "BBC One London Schedule for Wednesday 2 June 2010". BBC News. Retrieved 2 June 2010. 
  43. ^ Green, Kris (4 June 2010). "ITV confirms rescheduled Corrie eps". Digital Spy. Retrieved 4 June 2010. 
  44. ^ "Coronation Street taken off air following Cumbria shooting". STV. Retrieved 2 June 2010. 
  45. ^ Wolf, Ian. "You Have Been Watching postponed". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 3 June 2010. 
  46. ^ Lady GaGa slammed for gory stage show AOL Music, 2 June 2010
  47. ^ Daily Mail 11 June 2010
  48. ^ Thursday, Monkey (3 June 2010). "When even Giles Coren has to apologise | Media Monkey | Media |". Guardian (London). Retrieved 26 June 2010. 
  49. ^ "9 June 2010". BBC News. 9 June 2010. Retrieved 26 June 2010. 
  50. ^ "Funeral for Cumbria shooting victim Garry Purdham". BBC News. 10 June 2010. Retrieved 10 June 2010. 
  51. ^ BBC News 14 June 2010 'Funeral for Killer's Twin Brother'
  52. ^ Cumbria Community Foundation [1]. Retrieved 13 June 2010.