At least 12 killed at immigration center in NY
|In this photo rendered from video and released by WBNG-TV in Binghamton, N.Y., authorities take up positions behind a vehicle, Friday, April 3, 2009, in Binghamton, N.Y. At least four people were shot and as many as 41 people taken hostage Friday morning at an immigration services center in western New York state, according to media reports.|
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. (AP) -- A gunman opened fire on a room where immigrants were taking a citizenship exam in downtown Binghamton on Friday, killing as many as 13 people before committing suicide, officials said.
Gov. David Paterson said at a news conference that 12 or 13 people had been killed. The suspected gunman carried identification with the name of 42-year-old Jiverly Voong of nearby Johnson City, N.Y., a law enforcement official said.
The suspect's body was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound in an office of the American Civic Association building, said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly and was talking on condition of anonymity.
The gunman barricaded the rear door of the building with his car before entering through the front door, firing his weapon, the official said.
Vice President Joe Biden, speaking at an event in New York, told the crowd that someone entered a room where an examination was being given from immigrants to become U.S. citizens, then shot and killed 12 or 13 people.
The Binghamton SWAT team responded, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was also sending agents to Binghamton.
The American Civic Association helps immigrants in the Binghamton area with naturalization applications, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The association describes itself as helping immigrants and refugees with counseling, resettlement, citizenship, family reunification and translators.
The association's president, Angela Leach, "is very upset right now," said Mike Chanecka, a friend who answered a call at her home as Leach wept in the background.
"She doesn't know anything; she's as shocked as anyone," Chanecka said. "For some reason, she had the day off today. And she's very worried about her secretary."
Two women and a man suffering gunshot wounds were being treated at Wilson Medical Center in Johnson City, said hospital spokeswoman Christina Boyd. One was stable, one was serious and one was critical. Their ages ranged from 20s to 50s, she said.
Linda Miller, a spokeswoman at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton, said a student from Binghamton University was being treated there.
The shooting occurred in a mixed neighborhood of homes and small businesses in the center of Binghamton, a city of about 47,000 located 140 miles northwest of New York City.
College student Leslie Shrager told the AP that she and her five housemates were sleeping when police pounded on the front door of their house next door to the shooting scene.
Officers escorted the six Binghamton University students outside, she said, and that's when they learned of the shooting.
"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, of Slingerlands, an Albany suburb. "Literally two minutes later the cops came and got us out."
At the junction of the Susquehanna and the Chenango rivers, the Binghamton area was the home to Endicott-Johnson shoe company and the birthplace of IBM, which between them employed tens of thousands of workers before the shoe company closed a decade ago and IBM downsized in recent years.