Cumbria gunman 'calm as anything', says survivor

Derrick Bird Bird was found dead in woodland after turning a gun on himself

A man who survived being shot by Derrick Bird said the Cumbria gunman was "calm as anything" as he pulled the trigger.

Les Hunter was beckoned over to Bird's car by the killer, who asked: "Can I see you mate?", before firing a shotgun at his head.

After being hit in the face, the 59-year-old tried to hide behind a car, but was then shot in the back.

He was fired upon in Egremont, where Bird killed two of his 12 victims.

Mr Hunter, who works in the building trade, said he was walking back to his car after visiting a friend when Bird called over to him.

"I was thinking that he needed some help to find someone," he explained from his home in Cleator Moor, near Whitehaven.

"I stepped off the kerb and walked towards the passenger side of his car and as I did I saw a shotgun lying across the seat pointing towards me.

Start Quote

He could have taken my side out for all I know. There was a big hole the size of my hand in my jumper from the pellets”

End Quote Les Hunter, gun attack survivor

"He was sitting back in the driver's seat calm as anything. I saw him start to lift the gun up and I knew it was wrong, so I turned away and he fired one shot, which caught the side of my face.

"I tried to crouch down behind a nearby parked car and he fired another shot right after and got me in the back.

"When he fired at my face I didn't know what to think. When he got the one in the back, I just felt wet and hot.

"He could have taken my side out for all I know. There was a big hole the size of my hand in my jumper from the pellets."

He said it was a blessing that Bird then drove away, adding: "If he'd got out he'd have made a good job of it."

Funeral services

Mr Hunter was kept in overnight at Whitehaven's West Cumberland Hospital before being released the next day.

An x-ray revealed that 29 shotgun pellets remain embedded in his back and he said doctors have yet to decide whether to remove them.

Taxi driver Bird shot himself after the gun rampage through the west of the county on 2 June.

Police removed papers and a computer from his home in Rowrah at the weekend in a bid to establish the motive for the shootings.

The terraced house has now been boarded up and officers are no longer on duty outside.

Funerals for two of those killed will be held this week.

Garry Purdham, a 31-year-old farmer and semi-professional rugby player, was shot while he worked in a field near Gosforth.

Garry Purdham A funeral for Gosforth victim Garry Purdham will be held this week

He had been trimming hedges with his uncle shortly before midday when Bird drove past, wound down his car window and fired at him.

His family said his death had "left a hole" in the lives of his wife Ros, sons Cameron, eight, and Flynn, two, his father Jack, mother Bridget, brother Rob and sister Becky.

Workington Town Rugby League Club chairman David Bowden described him as "quite simply a gentleman and a pleasure to know".

His funeral will be held at St Mary's Church, Gosforth, at 1145 BST.

A service for Kevin Commons, who was the Bird family's solicitor, will be held at St John's Church in Workington, at 1215 BST on Friday.

The 60-year-old was found dead in the driveway of his house in Frizington Road, Frizington.

His friend, local businessman Gerard Richardson, described Mr Commons as "one of the hardest working people in the area".

"He's probably about the single most generous person I've ever met. Just a really, really nice character," he said.

Funerals for Bird's other victims are due to be held next week.

Several memorial events have been held across the county, and on Wednesday a minute's silence will be observed at noon at seven locations.

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