New York killer’s motive still a mystery

April 4th, 2009 - 11:06 am ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, April 4 (IANS) What motivated a lone gunman to shoot 13 people to death in New York state before killing himself remains a mystery, but media reports identified the suspect as an immigrant from Vietnam.

Cautious officials declined to name the gunman, but several media outlets citing an unnamed law enforcement official identified him as Jiverly Wong, a man in his early 40s.

The New York Times citing the official said Wong had a New York State pistol license that listed two handguns, apparently the weapons he used at the immigration services centre: a .45-caliber Beretta and a 9-millimeter Beretta.

The authorities matched the serial numbers of the two weapons found with the gunman’s body to the serial numbers on the pistol license.

Officials said they were trying to trace the histories of the guns. Other public records indicated that Wong had also lived in California in recent years.

The records indicated that from 2000 to 2007 he lived in Inglewood, California, where he worked as a delivery driver for Kikka Sushi until he failed to show up for work one day and was not seen again, the Times said citing Paulus Lukas, who works in human resources for the business.

He said that Wong made few friends and rarely socialised. “I cannot point to anybody here who really knew him because he was not very outgoing,” Lukas said. “He was always keeping things to himself most of the time. He was quiet, but nothing unusual.”

At Wong’s home in Johnson City on Friday night, the police were seen removing a rifle case, a box with a picture of a rifle on the side, and two black boxes that may have been handgun cases.

Maurice Hinchey, who represents the area in Congress, told the Times he was informed by law enforcement officials that the gunman drove to the centre in a car registered to his father and barricaded the centre’s back door with it.

Armed with the two handguns and wearing a green jacket, the executioner came out of the rain through the glass front doors of the centre, entering a reception area where he encountered two secretaries. He said nothing, but shot both, according to the Times reconstruction of the crime.

One slumped dead, but the other, Shirley DeLucca, pretended to be dead, and as the gunman walked on, she crawled to a desk and called 911.

Beyond the entryway, about 50 people - Russians, Kurds, Chinese, Arabs, Laotians and others - were arrayed in several classrooms at their desks in language and citizenship classes.

The gunman entered the first room, a citizenship class, and resumed firing. As victims wounded and dying crumpled to the floor, students in nearby classrooms heard the shots.

Thanh Huynh, who translated the account of a young Vietnamese woman, told the Times the group fell silent. The teacher called 911, then hurried out with the others, running for the back stairs to the basement.

“They heard the continued shooting, very fast,” the translator said, “like 10 bullets, 10 shots together. They tried to hide in the basement anywhere they can, under chair, closet, storage room. Then, after they heard, so quiet.”

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