UNTIL yesterday, rural Cumbria was a place associated with the beauty and tranquility that attracted tourists.
But after five hours of unimaginable horror, the towns and villages where Derrick Bird randomly turned his guns on dozens of innocent bystanders have now joined Hungerford and Dunblane as words that are shorthand for massacre. By the time police found Bird's body in a wood in Eskdale at 1.40pm, 12 victims were dead, at least 25 others were injured and Cumbria had become the scene of one of the worst mass shootings in British history.
Over a 30-mile trail of bloodshed, Bird had calmly stopped in at least 30 locations to pick off victims who had just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. And as detectives tried to find out what triggered the 52-year-old taxi driver's killing spree, it appeared that the answer might lie in either a row over his mother's will or a disagreement with other drivers on the local cab rank.