x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

UK prime minister meets survivors of mass shooting

David Cameron praises the bravery of those injured by a taxi driver on a shooting spree across Cumbria that killed 12 people and wounded 11 others.

LONDON // The British prime minister David Cameron today praised the bravery of those injured by a taxi driver on a shooting spree across rural England that killed 12 people and wounded 11 others. Mr Cameron and the Home Secretary Theresa May visited survivors and staff at West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven as police investigated the killer's financial affairs and family situation for clues to his rampage.

He said he had heard "incredible tales of bravery" from the traumatised community and promised government support but cautioned that the full reasons for the massacre may never be known. The killer, 52-year-old Derrick Bird, committed suicide after the attacks. "People - I have met some of them - are having to come to terms with the most appalling random acts that they will find very difficult to understand, and in some cases there will be no proper explanation," Mr Cameron said.

"There are incredible stories of bravery here and an amazing community that has been torn by this but will eventually come through this like other communities have." Mr Cameron and Ms May also met with emergency workers, Cumbria county's police chief and other officers investigating Britain's worst mass shooting since 1996. The area, about 560 kilometres northwest of London, is in shock from Wednesday's shootings.

Police are trying to determine a motive behind the attacks and are investigating rumors that Bird had financial problems or family troubles. A friend, Mark Cooper, said Bird had told him he was being investigated by tax authorities and feared going to jail. "He said, 'They have caught me with £60,000 pounds (Dh322,500) in the bank, the tax people,"' Mr Cooper said. "He just said, 'I'll go to jail."'

Cumbria Police said Bird's financial situation was one "ongoing line of inquiry". The taxi driver shot his twin brother, his family's lawyer and a fellow cabbie dead Wednesday morning before driving through the countryside in his cab for more than three hours, blasting victims seemingly at random. Many were shot in the face. The dead include a farmer who was shot while trimming hedges in a field, a man on his bicycle, a retired couple and a woman carrying her shopping.

Police said Bird held licenses for both of the weapons - a shotgun and a .22-caliber rifle with a telescopic sight - that were recovered beside his body. Mr Cameron has cautioned against a "knee-jerk" decision to change Britain's already stringent gun laws. * AP