News & Current Affairs

April 4, 2009

Gunman kills 13 in New York siege

Filed under: Latest, Politics News — Tags: , , , , , , , — expressyoureself @ 7:03 am

Gunman kills 13 in New York siege

A gunman has killed 13 people after taking dozens hostage in the US state of New York.

The suspected gunman was later found dead inside the immigration centre in Binghamton, police officials said.

Nearly 40 people escaped from the building but four were critically injured in the shooting, north-west of New York City, police said.

President Barack Obama, in Europe for a Nato summit, said he was “shocked and saddened” by the “senseless violence”.

Mr Obama said his administration was “actively monitoring the situation” and that Vice-President Joe Biden was in touch with officials in Binghamton.

The town’s police chief, Joseph Zikuski, told a news conference that 14 people had been found dead in the American Civic Association (ACA) buildings.

The man believed to have carried out the attack was found dead with an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, he said. Ammunition, two more hand guns and a hunting knife were recovered from the scene.

Democratic Congressman Maurice Hinchey told AP the gunman had entered a room where people were sitting exams for US citizenship.

“It was in the middle of a test. He just went in and opened fire,” said Mr Hinchey, whose congressional district includes Binghamton.

The BBC’s Matthew Price in Binghamton says people in the town are struggling to deal with the horror of what some have described as an “unbelievable” attack.

Wounded

Witnesses reported seeing a man entering the ACA building during the morning. He was described as being of Asian appearance, in his 20s, and wearing a bright green nylon jacket and dark-rimmed glasses.

The gunman, believed to have been a Vietnamese-American, used his car to barricade the building’s back door before bursting in the front door, firing his weapon, said officials.

Jon Donnison, BBC News, Binghamton
Binghamton is the latest American town trying to come to terms with a mass shooting. Last week it was Carthage, North Carolina. The week before Samson, Alabama.

With the red and blue lights of police cars flashing through the drizzle, smokers huddle in doorways on Main Street. There is only one topic of conversation. “It’s a very good area, I would never think that it would happen here,” said Martine Youmans.

The words and the scenes are increasingly familiar for Americans. On local talk radio stations the chatter has already turned to gun law, still as divisive an issue as ever. One caller’s plea: “Don’t let them take away our guns.”

He shot two receptionists, one of whom managed to call the police, before walking down a corridor towards classrooms.

Police were on the scene in minutes – people in nearby apartments, a school and a care home were told to stay in their buildings and some streets were sealed off.

Mr Zikuski said 26 people took refuge in the building’s basement after hearing gunshots.

Eyewitnesses described seeing some people fleeing the building.

“About 15 or so employees of the Civic Association came out crying with their hands behind their heads,” one witness told Binghamton’s WNBF Radio.

“They were escorted by the police and they took them to ambulances and took them away,” he said.

Two other people were seen being led away by police in plastic handcuffs during the incident but officials later said they were not suspects.

Police later raided the home of the suspected gunman and removed items including computer hard drives and a rifle bag, reports said.

‘Profound outrage’

Local hospitals have said about 30 people are being treated.

A spokeswoman for Our Lady of Lourdes hospital told the BBC several people had been admitted with serious injuries.

The governor of New York state, David Paterson, said it had been “a tragic day for New York”.

“This is a horrible situation. There’s actually no reason or excuse for this kind of shooting and brutal attack on innocent people right here in New York state,” he said.

Mr Paterson told a news conference there was “a profound sense of outrage at this senseless act of violence in which many innocent people were killed, injured and probably traumatised for some time to come”.

He said many of the victims were not from the US and police were in the process of contacting their families living abroad.

New York State would offer any assistance to the victims, who had “wanted to be part of the American dream and so tragically may have had that hope thwarted today”, said Mr Paterson.

“There still is an American dream and all of us who are Americans will try to heal this very, very deep wound in the city of Binghamton.”

Our correspondent said police were picking through evidence in the building trying to determine what had happened and why.

Bob Joseph of WNBF Radio told the town had never experienced an incident on such a scale before.

The ACA says on its website that it assists immigrants and refugees with personal and immigration counselling.

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September 6, 2008

Police: Gunman kills self after standoff in bank

Police: Gunman kills self after standoff in bank

WHEATON, Illinois (AP) — A gunman who took a dozen hostages in a suburban Chicago bank after wresting a gun from a police officer Friday died after shooting himself in the head, police said.

Hostages were released Friday after a gunman killed himself in suburban Chicago, police say.

Hostages were released Friday after a gunman killed himself in suburban Chicago, police say.

The standoff began around 1:30 p.m., after a Wheaton police officer responded to a call of a hit-and-run accident near the bank.

When the officer arrived, the suspect grabbed the officer from behind, held a knife to his throat and demanded his gun, Deputy Chief Thomas Meloni said.

During an ensuing struggle, the officer was cut on a forearm and the suspect was able to take the gun and run the lobby of the Wheaton Bank & Trust, where he ordered everyone to the floor, Meloni said.

Police in Wheaton, about 20 miles west of Chicago, did not immediately release the gunman’s identity.

As officers evacuated nearby businesses and homes and shut down streets and rail service, hostage negotiators talked to the gunman by phone. They were able to persuade him to release 10 hostages, leaving two behind, Meloni said.

“At one point the suspect began to close the blinds from inside the bank and he disconnected the phone contact with the hostage negotiators,” Meloni said.

Shortly afterward, about 4:15 p.m., officers heard a single gunshot and they rushed in, Meloni said. He said the man was dead of a single gunshot wound to the head.

A spokeswoman for Central DuPage Hospital, Amy Steinbruecker, said the hospital treated and released the police officer who scuffled with the suspect for minor injuries.

Television footage showed dozens of people running from the four-story bank building, which includes other businesses, with their hands above their heads.

“We locked our office door, turned off the lights, drew the blinds,” said Donna Price, 52, of McHenry, who works in the office building. “Then we heard a knock on the door and it was a SWAT guy. He told us to get out right now.

“I said, ‘Let me get my purse.’ He said, ‘No, now.”‘

Price said police held people in a stairwell of the building before ordering them out.

“We all had to put our hands up on the back of our heads and run,” Price said from a convenience store across the street where more than 100 people were crowded.

August 14, 2008

Arkansas party leader shot dead

Arkansas party leader shot dead

Bill Gwatney (handout image courtesy of Arkansas Democratic Party)

Bill Gwatney was taken to hospital but died of his injuries

The chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party has died after being shot by a gunman at the US state’s party HQ.

Bill Gwatney, 49, was shot several times by a man who barged his way into his office near the state capitol building in Little Rock, police said.

The attacker was shot and killed after a police chase, officials said.

Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean said Mr Gwatney’s killing was a “senseless tragedy”. Bill and Hillary Clinton said they had lost a friend.

“We are deeply saddened by the news that Bill Gwatney has passed away,” the Clintons said in a joint statement.

He was, they said, ” a cherished friend and confidante”.

The couple lived for years in the Arkansas capital of Little Rock while former President Bill Clinton was governor of the state.

Barack Obama, who competed with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination to run for US president in November, also said he was “shocked and saddened” by news of the shooting.

Map showing Arkansas

Police have named the suspected gunman as 50-year-old Timothy Dale Johnson of Searcy, a town about 50 miles (80km) north-east of Little Rock, the Associated Press reported.

The motive for the shooting remains unclear.

A 17-year-old volunteer at the party headquarters building told AP that the suspect had pushed past staff to get into Mr Gwatney’s office.

“He said he was interested in volunteering but that was obviously a lie,” Sam Higginbotham said.

Mr Gwatney was taken to hospital in a critical condition and died of his injuries about four hours later.

He was a former state senator and was due to attend the Democratic Party’s national convention in Denver later this month as a super delegate.

He supported Mrs Clinton during the contest for the party’s presidential nomination.

Last December, a man who claimed to have a bomb strapped to his chest walked into Mrs Clinton’s campaign office in New Hampshire, prompting a hostage drama lasting several hours.

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