Shock as 'quiet fellow' goes on killing spree

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The Independent Online

Those who knew him were at a loss as to why Derrick Bird turned into a killer today.

The 52-year-old was described as a "quiet" man by neighbours, while acquaintances said he was "fairly popular".

None could have guessed that the divorced father - known as "Birdy" to friends - would turn into a gunman responsible for today's horrific shooting spree.

Bird appears as a short-haired, well-built, middle-aged man in the photo handed out by police today.

From Rowrah, near Frizington in Cumbria, he worked as a self-employed taxi driver.

It is a job that he has done for more than two decades.

He was divorced and lived alone, according to Sue Matthews, a telephonist at A2B Taxis in Whitehaven.

She said: "To be honest, he was a quiet fellow. I am in absolute shock.

"I can't believe he would do that - he was a quiet little fellow.

She added: "I know him through work, he was self-employed but it's a small place.

"I know he had one son, who was grown up, and he lived alone.

She described Bird as a regular in town who would often be seen on nights out.

"I would say he was fairly popular. I would see him once a week out and about. He was known as Birdy," Ms Matthews said.

Glenda Pears, who runs L&G Taxis, described him as a "real nice man". She added that he had two sons, but was divorced.

In his hometown of Rowrah, neighbours were similarly shocked at today's events.

Derek Richardson said: "He kept himself to himself."

Another neighbour, Dorothy Taylor, said: "He lives up the road from me and is a taxi driver. I usually drive past him in my car.

"It's an awful shock. I'm staying in. It's very peaceful and quiet round here.

"He was usually all right, quiet."