TOPICS > Politics

Gunman Kills 13 in Attack on N.Y. Immigration Center

April 3, 2009 at 6:00 PM EDT
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A gunman opened fire Friday at an immigration center in Binghamton, N.Y., killing 13 people and taking dozens of hostages before authorities found him dead. Judy Woodruff gives an update.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Our lead story: A gunman killed at least 13 people today in Binghamton, N.Y. Four others were wounded.

It happened at the American Civic Association in Binghamton. The group provides services to immigrants. Police said the man trapped people in the office building and opened fire on a class taking a citizenship exam. Then, he apparently shot and killed himself.

Outside, SWAT teams and police closed off streets and locked down nearby buildings. All of the wounded were listed in critical condition.

A short time ago, authorities held a news conference in Binghamton.

JOSEPH ZIKUSKI, chief, Binghamton Police Department: What we do know is at 10:31 this morning there was a 911 call to the emergency services center, a woman saying she’d been shot, there was a man with a handgun, firing several more shots, and that there was hostages.

The police response was less than two minutes. I, myself, was on the scene in less than three minutes. I heard the call go out and responded from here at the station.

All the gunfire had ceased by that time. There was no more shots fired. We do not know at this point — the woman’s in surgery — how much time lapsed after she’d been shot that she was able to call us.

Once we got there, it was determined that a suspect had put a car against the back door, blocking any possible exit by possible victims. And he entered through the front door.

It took the SWAT team several hours to clear the place due to information that kept coming in about possibility the shooter may still be in the building.

Once that was all done, and talking — and as this was all evolving, talking to our original caller prior to her going into surgery, said that a lone gunman entered the building, immediately shot her and another receptionist. Unfortunately, that other receptionist is deceased. He then went to a room immediately off the reception area and shot several more people.

What is a lot of our concerns is the safety of Binghamton — the residents and the community and we have reason to believe, but not 100 percent, that among the dead is the shooter. And I’m going to tell you why we believe that, but by no means are we 100 percent sure.

The vehicle, we believe — we spoke to the registered owner of the vehicle. We know the person that borrowed that vehicle. It’s our understanding he has some ties to the civic association.

Among the dead, there is a male victim that has a satchel around his neck or arms, and there is ammunition in there. Our original information that the shooter was using handguns, and we did recover two handguns at the scene. So at this point, not 100 percent, but we have very good reason to believe that the shooter is among the dead.

We removed safely 37 people. Four people we removed are wounded, and all four of them are listed in critical condition. So it’s 37 survived, four critical condition.

As far as how many shots were fired, no idea. And how long, as I said, we were unable to determine from her how long it took her to make that 911 call when she’d been shot. What she did is she pretended she was dead. After he shot her, she went down to the ground.

He went into a room off that reception area, shot several people, and as — as he went down the hallway in the building, she crawled underneath a desk, and sometime after that she called us. There’s 14 confirmed dead in the building.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The police chief would not confirm the identity of the gunman. And he said, for now, investigators have no idea what the motive was.