Motive Unclear In Binghamton, N.Y., Shootings

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Police say the gunman in the deadly shootings at the American Civic Association building in Binghamton, N.Y., shot the receptionist and another woman before walking down the hall where classes were being held.

"Police were then worried when they arrived about what they might find when they went down that hall," Spencer Raymond, a reporter for member station WAER in Syracuse, tells Michele Norris. "It turned out that's where they found most of the victims as well as the shooter's body."

Raymond says the police are only saying that the gunman was no stranger to the civic association.

"He didn't say anything when he entered and there's still no motive as to why the gunman would do this," Raymond says.

Four people were confirmed wounded in the shooting, including the receptionist. All of them are listed in critical condition at local hospitals, Raymond says.

Toll At 14 In Shootings At N.Y. Immigration Center

Authorities outside the American Civic Association in Binghamton, N.Y., where a shooting took place

Authorities stand watch outside the American Civic Association in Binghamton, N.Y., where a gunman killed 13 people. WBNG-TV hide caption

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Shooting Scene

Watch a video of the scene in Binghamton from WBNG-TV.

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Bedlam broke out Friday when a gunman walked into the American Civic Association, an immigration services center in downtown Binghamton, N.Y., and opened fire. By the time the shooting ended, 14 people were dead.

Four others were wounded and in critical condition, Police Chief Joseph Zikuski said. Police safely removed 37 people from the building, including more than two dozen who took refuge in the boiler room in the basement, he said.

Zikuski said that police have reason to believe that the shooter was among the dead, but they are not "100 percent sure."

He said the gunman has not been positively identified, but one deceased man was found wearing a satchel around his neck. It contained ammunition. Two handguns were found at the crime scene.

The episode lasted about four hours. "The police personnel standing around ... do seem a lot more relaxed than they have been for a long time," Bill Jaker, a reporter with member station WSKG, told NPR's Michele Norris around 4 p.m. Friday. "So the crisis is over and the traffic is beginning to move again on Main Street so things are beginning to return to normal in Binghamton."

As the nation watched play-by-play images on cable news channels throughout mid-day, uniformed officers surrounded the glass-front center. Members of the city's SWAT team, FBI agents and officers from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were dispatched to the scene. The gunman apparently used a car to block the back door of the center, then entered through the front.

The police chief said that the man believed to be the gunman had borrowed a friend's car to attend a class at the association. That was the car used to barricade the back door. The chief added that the suspect "was no stranger" to people at the immigration center.

Police received a 911 call from a receptionist who had been shot, the chief said. That receptionist remained hospitalized in critical condition Friday.

Those who hid in the basement made contact by telephone with the authorities, NPR's Brian Mann told Norris. He said the authorities gave them advice on how to bar the door and they remained in that room for at least two hours while SWAT teams swept the building.

At the late afternoon news conference, Binghamton Mayor Matthew Ryan expressed "sorrow and compassion" for all of the victims, their families and friends. He said the investigation will be a lengthy process and victims still need to be identified.

He thanked all agencies — city, county, state and federal — that responded. And he praised his community for coming together in a crisis. Many of the families involved in the tragedy are not originally not from this country, Ryan said.

"This is a horrible situation," New York Gov. David Paterson said. He called it a "brutal attack" on innocent people.

At the afternoon news conference, flanked by other New York officials, he recited a litany of mass shootings. He asked, rhetorically, when society is going to be able to curb this kind of violence that seems to happen so often it's hard to keep track of the incidents.

Classes designed to help immigrants obtain American citizenship were scheduled at the center on Friday.

"We have got to figure out a way to deal with this senseless, senseless violence," said Vice President Biden, who was speaking to a group in New York City. President Obama issued a statement from Europe.

Binghamton, population 47,000, is about 140 miles northwest of New York City. Christina Boyd, a spokesperson for Wilson Medical Center in nearby Johnson City, said that a handful of people were being treated there for gunshot wounds.

During the incident, police banged on the door of a house near the center. Tenant Leslie Shrager, a student at Binghamton University, and five housemates were asleep. The students were told of the shooting and taken outside by police.

"One of our housemates thought they heard banging of some kind. But when you're living in downtown Binghamton, it's always noisy," said Shrager. She is from Slingerlands, just outside of Albany. "Literally two minutes later the cops came and got us out."

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.



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