A gunman firing an automatic rifle rampaged through this small market town today, killing at least 14 people and wounding 14 before committing suicide at the end of a massacre unprecedented in Britain.
Police said more than six hours after the carnage began that the gunman, trapped alone in a school, had shot himself dead.
In a Rambo-style rampage, the gunman, dressed in combat fatigues and firing from both hands with an automatic assault rifle and a pistol, sprayed bullets into lunchtime crowds as he strolled along the main shopping street in Hungerford.
“He was blasting away at anything that moved,” said Jim Hardy, who witnessed the blood bath in the town 60 miles west of London.
The blond and bearded gunman, apparently in his 30s, shot his mother to death in her Hungerford home and burned down the house before rampaging through the town. He was trapped by police, alone, in a local school.
Police said it appeared that he had shot himself during the siege. They used ropes to drag his body out of the school, fearing he had booby-trapped it with a hand grenade.
The incident apparently began when the gunman fired at a cashier in a glass booth at a gasoline station in nearby Wiltshire. She was showered with glass but not badly injured.
He then leaped into his car and sped toward Hungerford, where, after killing his mother and burning her house, he started firing at other people. The main street was busy with lunchtime crowds.
Police helicopters circled the town, and people were warned over loudspeakers to stay off the streets. Many peered out of shop windows, dazed, as police rushed into the area.
Ambulances ferried the dead and injured to hospitals. Police said that one police officer was killed and that two of the injured were in serious condition.
Police said a woman found dead with gunshot wounds in a forest 10 miles west of Hungerford was also a victim of the gunman. Two children found next to her were alive and well.
As police surrounded the area where the gunman was believed to be hiding, a dazed and bleeding man drove into the town center.
He said he had been shot in his van and waited for hours before plucking up enough courage to drive out of the danger zone to safety.
Local residents said that they knew the gunman and that he lived in Hungerford. Police said he was a member of a gun club and had licenses for several weapons.