Silence For Shooting Victims In Cumbria

The 12 victims of Cumbria gunmen Derrick Bird will be remembered today.

A 2 minute silence is taking place a year on from when the taxi driver went on the rampage before turning the gun on himself.

52 year old Bird shot his own twin brother David several times, went on to gun down solicitor Kevin Commons, then drove to a taxi rank in Whitehaven town centre where he blasted taxi driver Darren Rewcastle, at point-blank range.

The troubled father-of-two then randomly targeted strangers as he travelled out of town and killed mother-of-two Susan Hughes, 57; retired security worker Kenneth Fishburn, 71; retired Sellafield worker and part-time mole-catcher Isaac Dixon, 65; retired couple James and Jennifer Jackson, aged 67 and 68; farmer and rugby league player Garry Purdham, 31; estate agent Jamie Clark, 23; retired Sellafield employee Michael Pike, 64, and pensioner Jane Robinson, 66.

Bird, who also injured 11 others, repeatedly stopped his grey Citroen Picasso, called victims over as if to ask the time and then shot them in the face.

His spree killings took in Lamplugh, Frizington, Whitehaven, Egremont, Gosforth and Seascale before he was found dead in woodland near Boot - just over three hours after police discovered his first known victim.

In March, an inquest jury returned verdicts of unlawful killing against each of Bird's victims and found that the taxi driver took his own life.

The commemoration is set to be low-key with the majority of the families of the victims not expected to attend any public gatherings.

Copeland Borough Council employees and councillors will take part in the silence from noon and the authority is encouraging the community and other organisations to show their respects for those who lost their lives last year.

The council offices will also be flying their flags at half-mast on the day.

Among the places that people are invited to gather to hold a silence is at St Nicholas's Gardens in Whitehaven town centre, close to the taxi rank where Bird shot a number of his colleagues.

St Nicholas's Tower Chapel will be open all day for prayers and the book of condolence which was created last year will reopen.

A similar silence will take place at the Egremont War Memorial at noon.

Most churches in the region will also be open for those wishing to say prayers or talk to someone.

Looking ahead, several events will be held in the community in the days following in a bid to raise spirits including an outdoor musical concert and summer fete in Whitehaven, a day of community activities in Seascale and several performances in Egremont by The Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment.

Council leader Councillor Elaine Woodburn said:

'June 2 2010 was a tragic day for so many people in the borough and the events of that day will stay with us forever.

'As a community, it is important that we take the time to pause and reflect on the events of a year ago, and remember those who are no longer with us, or whose lives were affected by what happened on that awful day. People will want to reflect in their own way but the two-minute silence is a simple gesture of respect that people can offer, should they wish to do so.'

The Archdeacon of West Cumberland, the Rev Canon Dr Richard Pratt, said the local clergy had met on several occasions regarding the shootings and had been assisted by the clergy who handled the Hungerford and Dunblane massacres at one of their meetings, he said:

'Most recently, we have turned our minds to the anniversary of the shootings. We are aware that some people will feel the need to mark the occasion. For others - perhaps those most closely affected - it will be a time of intense private grief.

'Then, too, we would want to make sure that the remembrances of those who died are not defined by the manner of their death - a danger if too much is made of the anniversary.'

He added those killed in the shootings would once again be remembered on All Saints and All Souls Day in November when everyone who has died is remembered before God.