No terrorist group behind New York shootout: Police

April 5th, 2009 - 12:35 am ICT by IANS  

Taliban By Arun Kumar
Washington, April 4 (IANS) No terrorist group was behind the shooting rampage at an immigration services centre in New York State where a lone gunman killed 13 people and then shot himself, police said Saturday.

Reports of a tie to a terrorist group aren’t true, Binghamton Police chief Joseph Zikuski said in a televised press conference.

Pakistan’s top Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud had claimed in phone calls to some media outlets that he had ordered the shooting in a direct response to the drone attacks carried out by US forces on Pakistani tribal areas and that a second attacker had managed to escape.

The FBI has also rubbished the claim.

The gunman behind Friday’s rampage has been has been identified as 42-year-old Jiverly Voong, who lived in the nearby town of Union. He was born with the name Jiverly Wong but changed it to Voong, the police chief said.

Zikuski said while he can’t know what Voong was thinking, investigators know he lost his job at ShopVac. People who knew Voong were not surprised by his actions at the American Civic Association.

Until last month Voong was taking classes at the centre, which helps immigrants assimilate, he said. The gunman felt people were making fun of him for his poor English language skills.

Zikuski said Voong wore body armour during the attack, indicating he was prepared for a confrontation with police. He described the shooter as “coward” who intended to take on police but took his own life instead.

Most of the 13 victims at an immigrant centre had multiple gunshot wounds.

Zikuski said they did not know the exact time the shooter arrived at the American Civic Association. Police will need to talk to the receptionist who called 911 to put together an exact time line.

Describing the woman as a hero, the police chief said after she was shot, she pretended to be dead and hid under a desk. She called for help from a cell phone and remained in constant contact with police until a SWAT team entered the building.

Zikuski said there was no prior intelligence on Voong’s intentions and there is no tie to any terrorist group. Voong lived with his father, mother and sister at a home on Taylor Street in the town of Union.

Police expect to release the names of the 13 victims later Saturday as autopsies were still taking place and families need official notification first.

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