New York : A gunman barricaded the back door of an immigration services centre in New York State with a car and burst through the front door on a shooting rampage, killing 13 people and then, apparently, himself, police said.
Four more people were wounded in the attack Friday at the American Civic Association in Binghamton and taken to hospitals in critical condition, according to authorities, police chief Joseph Zikuski told a news conference.
The latest US shooting incident with multiple casualties came less than two weeks before the second anniversary of April 16, 2007 – the deadliest shooting rampage in modern US history when a student gunman killed 32 people, including two Indians, and himself at Virginia Tech, a university in Blacksburg, Virginia.
Zikuski said the gunman blocked the back entrance of the building with a car, walked in the front door and shot two receptionists, one of whom died, before entering a classroom and killing 12 more people and then apparently committing suicide.
CNN said a senior law enforcement source with detailed knowledge of the investigation identified the suspect as Jiverly Wong, who is believed to be in his early 40s. Authorities executed a search warrant at Wong’s home in Johnson City, near Binghamton, the source said.
Officers spoke to the suspect’s mother at the home, the CNN source said. Representative Maurice Hinchey, whose district includes Binghamton, told The New York Times that indications are the gunman was an immigrant from Vietnam and the car he used was registered in his father’s name.
All the shots were fired before police reached the scene on a main street in Binghamton, a town of some 45,000 people about 150 miles northwest of New York City.
The shooter, who was carrying a satchel of ammunition, was found dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot to the head, Zikuski said.
Police are still investigating motives but said the use of the car suggested premeditation. “It is our understanding he had ties to the civic association,” he said.
In all, law enforcement removed 14 deceased people from the building and 37 survivors, Zikuski said, in what the city’s mayor has called the “most tragic day in Binghamton’s history”.
At 10.31 a.m., authorities received a 911 call from a receptionist who said she’d been shot in the stomach. She told police that a man with a handgun also shot and killed another receptionist before proceeding to a nearby classroom, where he gunned down more victims.
While the gunman continued to fire, 26 others in the centre hid in a boiler room downstairs, where law enforcement found them. It was unclear how long before the 911 call the rampage began, but by the time police arrived, about two minutes later, the shooting had stopped.
It took another two hours or so for officers to clear the building. Some men were led out of the building in plastic handcuffs as a precaution, but were later cleared, the chief said.
Nearby apartments were evacuated and Binghamton High School was locked down for most of the afternoon.