- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 5, 2009

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. (AP) - People from eight countries have been identified as the victims of a deadly rampage at an immigrant community center in Binghamton, N.Y.

Police said Sunday that four of the victims were from China and two were from the United States.

Two more were from Vietnam, including the gunman. Two were from Haiti. The remaining four were from Pakistan, the Philippines, Iraq and Brazil.

Police say 41-year-old Jiverly Wong burst into the American Civic Association on Friday morning and opened fire with two handguns. He then took his own life.

Four people remain hospitalized and are expected to recover.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. (AP) _ A faster response by emergency officials to the attack at an immigrant services center in Binghamton would have saved no lives, a county prosecutor said Sunday.

Authorities investigating Friday’s massacre at the American Civic Association have faced questions about the speed and manner of the response to the attack, in which a gunman killed 13 people and then himself.

Survivors reported huddling for hours in a basement, not knowing whether they were still in danger.

“We can definitely say no one was shot after the police arrival,” said Broome County District Attorney Gerald F. Mollen.

The first 911 calls came in at 10:30 a.m., said Police Chief Joseph Zikuski said at a news conference. The callers spoke broken English, and it took dispatchers two minutes to sort out what was happening, he said.

The first patrol cars arrived at 10:33 a.m.

“Nobody could have been saved if the police walked in the door that first minute,” Mollen said. Medical examiners who conducted autopsies on the victims told him the injuries were so severe, they would not have survived, he said.

Officers were on the scene five minutes before a wounded receptionist called police to report a gunman in the building, Zikuski said. Police had earlier said it was that call that brought them to the immigration center.

A SWAT team entered the building 43 minutes after the first call to police.

When police got there, the gunfire had stopped, so they believed there was no “active gunman” in the center and decided to wait for the SWAT team to arrive, Zikuski said.

He compared the scene with the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Colorado, in which 15 people died, including the two teenage gunmen.

“At Columbine, there were numerous shots ringing out and law enforcement stood by,” he said. “I was quite frankly horrified when I knew that.”

Zikuski said his officers would have gone into the building if shots had still been flying.

“If you arrive on the scene _ the first two to four guys _ and there’s an active shooter, they enter,” he said.

Pressed on why police didn’t go into building, Zikuski said information they were getting from the receptionist was still uncertain enough to warrant caution.

“He was dead. We didn’t know it,” Zikuski said. “If there’s a bunch of cops laying on the floor shot trying to rescue somebody else, it’s not going to help anybody.”

When reporters repeated the line of questioning, Mollen jumped in to defend the police chief.

“I don’t think it’s fair to ask Chief Zikuski to respond to hypotheticals,” he said, adding that there would be a full review and report on the shooting, including the police response.

A former FBI agent who was also a member of a SWAT team said the response was appropriate.

“Lord, that seems like that was fast,” said Harold Copus, who now runs a consulting company based in Atlanta. “When something like this happens, as you can imagine, it’s mass confusion.”

The shooter, 41-year-old Jiverly Wong, was “an avid gunman” who had recently visited a firing range weekly, Zikuski said, but authorities still don’t know his motive.

Authorities don’t know whether he had a particular target, and Zikuski said the choice of targets may have even been random.

Wong was apparently upset about losing his job at a vacuum plant and about people picking on him for his limited English.

Police said they had identified all the victims but were still having difficulty notifying the family of a victim from Brazil. They expected to release the names of the victims Sunday afternoon.

Four Chinese were among those killed, said Zinqi Gao, spokesman for the Chinese consulate in New York.

One Chinese student was among the wounded, according to consular officials quoted by China’s official Xinhua News Agency. He was shot in the arm and leg.


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