14 DEAD IN RAMPAGE AT NY IMMIGRATION SVCS CENTER

Posted on April 3, 2009. Filed under: News And Politics... |

 
When I hear of catastophes like this, and there’ve been too many to count lately, it makes me seriously see what hopelessness looks like.  Sure, we’ve always had catastrophes, but they’ve been escalating in intensity and frequency.  If this guy murdered 14 people because he went off his meds, as bad as that is, I wouldn’t worry so much.  If this guy murdered 14 people because he couldn’t get assistance, I would worry plenty for obvious reasons.  If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know a few of my thoughts on this issue.  If not, read up…
 
May God rest their souls… 
 
QueenBee
 
 
New York Times
April 4, 2009

14 Dead in Rampage in Binghamton, N.Y.

Rebecca Catlett/Press & Sun-Bulletin, via Associated Press

Hostages left a building near the American Civic Association in Binghamton, N.Y., on Friday.
 
By MITCHELL L. BLUMENTHAL and LIZ ROBBINS

A lone gunman opened fire in an immigration services center in Binghamton, N.Y., on Friday morning, killing 14 people — possibly including himself — and injuring 4 others.

By mid-afternoon, 37 people were rescued from the terrifying scene, the police chief, Joseph Zikuski, said at a news conference at City Hall.

Federal law enforcement officials identified the gunman as Jiverly Wong, and said he used the alias Jiverly Voong. The shooter’s relationship to the American Civic Association — where the rampage took place — was unclear, but Chief Zikuski said he was “no stranger” to it.

“We have very good reason to believe the shooter is among the dead,” the chief said, adding that officials found one man in the building dead with a satchel around his neck that contained ammunition. Two handguns were also recovered at the scene.

Representative Maurice Hinchey, whose district includes Binghamton, said in a telephone interview after attending the news conference with Chief Zikuski, Gov. David A. Paterson and Mayor Matthew Ryan of Binghamton that the probable shooter was a Vietnamese immigrant, and that he was driving a car — with which he barricaded the rear door of the building — registered to his father.

“He went there purposefully and intentionally,” Mr. Hinchey said.

He lamented: “I can’t believe that this wonderful, beautiful little city would have this kind of experience. It’s just amazing.”

Binghamton was the latest unlikely scene of a murderous shooting spree in this country, coming only less than a month after a man killed 10 people in Samson, Ala., and injured six, before turning the gun on himself.

Only by Friday afternoon did details begin to emerge of the harrowing chain of events that unfolded in downtown Binghamton. The incident began when the gunman parked his car at the back of the building some time after 10 a.m.

“It obviously was premeditated,” Chief Zikuski said. “He barricaded the back door so nobody could get out. He was making sure nobody could escape.”

The gunman then entered the building through the front glass door — past a 10-foot-tall model of the Statue of Liberty and the flags of many nations —and, without saying a word, shot the two receptionists in the lobby.

“At 10:31 a.m., a 911 call came in from a woman saying she was shot, there was a man with a handgun and that there was hostages,” Chief Zikuski said.

The woman, one of the receptionists, pretended she was dead, even as the shooter shot and killed the other receptionist before going into a nearby classroom and opening fire on people taking a citizenship class.. Thirteen people were found dead in that room.

The wounded receptionist crawled under a desk and dialed 911.

Within three minutes of the 911 call the police were on the scene, Chief Zikuski said, and by the time they arrived the shots had stopped.

At the news conference, Mayor Ryan called it “this most tragic day in Binghamton’s history.”

President Obama, who is in France for a NATO meeting, issued a statement saying he was saddened to learn of the “act of senseless violence.”

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, their families and the people of Binghamton,” he said. “We don’t yet know all the facts, but my administration is actively monitoring the situation and the vice president is in touch with Governor Paterson and local officials to track developments.”

Three people with gunshot wounds were being treated at Wilson Medical Center in nearby Johnson City, according to Christina Boyd, a hospital spokeswoman. They are a woman in her 20s and another in her 50s, and a man of undetermined age, she said; one was in critical condition, one serious and the third stable.

Another person was being treated at Our Lady of Lourdes in Binghamton, a hospital spokeswoman there said.

The chief said the gunman barricaded the rear door of the one-story association building in downtown Binghamton with his car before entering.

As the shooting began,

“some people hide in closets, some people under table — everywhere you can hide,” said Than Huynh, 45, a high school teacher from Vietnam who translated for some of the Vietnamese survivors when they were interviewed by the police after they fled.

There was no screaming, he said. “They told me they tried to be quiet and run away.”

Witnesses said that officers and members of local S.W.A.T. teams could be seen surrounding the building, a mixed commercial and residential strip on Front Street, on the west bank of the Chenango River.

Binghamton High School, around the corner from the scene of the shootings, was locked down until late afternoon, and nearby apartment buildings were evacuated.

At the home of Angela Leach, the president of the civic association, a friend said she was with her priest on Friday afternoon and could not come to the phone. "She is very, very upset," he said. "She’s completely distraught."

In New York on Friday, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was to speak to the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network when he learned of the incident. As he told the audience about the shooting before his speech, an audible gasp could be heard. “We’ve got to figure out a way to deal with this terrible, terrible violence,” Mr. Biden said.

Pennie Kerber, 72, who lives in a renovated former firehouse across the street from the civic association, said that as of 3 p.m., there were only about 12 law enforcement officers left at the scene. But earlier, Ms. Kerber said, she could see from her front upstairs window hordes of S.W.A.T. officers, F.B.I. officials, and probably “every policeman on our force” surrounding the civic association building.

Maryam Weisser, a vice president of the civic association, said in a telephone interview that she was not sure how many people were killed, though she knew that the group’s secretary and a case worker were in the building and that classes in English as a second language were going on at the time of the shooting.

“This is the friendliest, nicest place to be,” Ms. Weisser, a volunteer from Vestal, N.Y., said. “This is a community where we help with any immigrant issue, with citizenship and translation.”

As Beth Putrino, 50, who has been on the board of the center for six years, “I don’t understand how a violent thing could happen here unless it has to do with this person not getting citizenship or something.

“I don’t know why anyone would be so angry,” she said. “We’re always helping people. It’s just a great place to be. We have all kinds of people that come there. Laotian, Vietnamese, Yugoslavia — everybody.”

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