Cumbria’s Derrick Bird sparks memories of 1987 Hungerford massacre

June 3, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

News of the Whitehaven massacre yesterday sent shockwaves through the village of Hungerford, where lone gunman Michael Ryan shot and killed 17 people in 1987.

In a chilling parallel with events in Cumbria 27-year-old Ryan also ended his killing spree by turning the gun on himself, in the classroom of a local school.

Ron Tarry, who was mayor of the picturesque Berkshire town on fateful August 19th, 1987, spoke of Ryan’s reign of terror.

The 83-year-old grandfather, who still lives in the village, said: ”It sounds all too familiar, I’m afraid.

”I remember hearing the news on the radio when it was happening here, and there was a feeling of absolute disbelief.  Absolute disbelief that it could be happening here.

”I spoke to people who actually saw Michael Ryan walking the street with a gun under his arm, and they couldn’t believe what they were seeing.

”I think this is what’s happening in Whitehaven.  I don’t know if the gunman had a history, or any problems, but Michael Ryan didn’t.

”But he was a loner, and nobody knew him terribly well.

”It was just shock and disbelief first of all.  Hungerford’s only got about 6,000 people, it’s about half the size of Whitehaven.

”But that was the first and most abiding feeling – disbelief that it could happen here.

”It was just absolute shock.  It lasted several days.  Of course, in the following days despite the sense of shock the community was excellent, and knew it needed to do something.

”But it was terrifying. The lack of knowing what was going on, for the people who actually saw him walking along the street with a gun under his arm, it was terrifying.”

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