04/03/2009

13 confirmed dead in shooting at N.Y. immigration center

Editor's note: A law enforcement official says the gunman who killed at least 12 people in Binghamton, N.Y., died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The official spoke Friday on condition of anonymity and said the suspect carried identification showing him as 42-year-old Jiverly Voong (VUNG') of nearby Johnson City, N.Y. Vice President Joe Biden, speaking in New York City, said the gunman opened fire on immigrants taking a citizenship class. Gov. David Paterson said at a news conference that 12 or 13 people had been killed. The law enforcement official says the body of the suspected gunman was found in an office of the American Civic Association building. Watch the news report on a local media website and go to PoliceOne's news report on the active shooter incident for releated resources.

Associated Press

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — 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.

The gunman had recently been let go from IBM in Johnson City, said Rep. Maurice Hinchey, whose district includes Binghamton. The gunman opened fire on a citizenship class, he said.

"People were there in the process of being tested for their citizenship," Hinchey said in a telephone interview. "It was in the middle of a test. He just went in and opened fire."

A woman who answered the phone at a listing for Henry D. Voong said she was Jiverly Voong's sister but would not give her name.

Asked if she was aware that he might have been involved in the shooting, she said: "How? He didn't have a gun. I think somebody involved, not him. I think he got shot by somebody else."

"I think there's a misunderstanding over here because I want to know, too," she said.

The American Civic Association helps immigrants in the Binghamton area with naturalization applications, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

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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.

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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.

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