Just Another Guy with Opinions

Massacre in Binghamton

Posted by shadmia on April 4, 2009

American Civic AssociationcarShooting

For the third time this week innocent people have died at the hands of gunmen. The latest incident happened in Binghamton, NY where a gunman – later identified as Jiverly Voong, 42, also known as Linh Phat Voong – killed 13 people and seriously injured 4 others before turning his gun on himself. 37 people who were also in the building at the time of the shootings were evacuated safely afterward.

It all began about 10:30 am April, 3, 2009 when Voong entered the American Civic Association building in downtown Binghamton. However before entering the building he parked a car, borrowed from a friend, blocking the rear exit of the building so no one could escape. He was armed with two handguns – a 9 mm and a .45 caliber. He also had a satchel around his neck containing ammunition, a survival knife and a flashlight. He was wearing a bright green nylon jacket and dark-rimmed glasses.

Upon entering the building Voong began shooting immediately, his first two victims were female receptionists. He killed one of them but the second one survived, pretending to be dead, and as soon as the gunman left she crawled under a table and called 911. Voong then proceeded on his rampage and managed to kill a total of 13 people while seriously injuring 4 others. By 10:33 am, when the police arrived, it was all over. From beginning to end the incident lasted only a couple of minutes.

Zhanar Tokhtabayeva, a 30-year-old from Kazakhstan, said she was in an English class when she heard a shot and her teacher screamed for everyone to go to the storage room.

“I heard the shots, every shot. I heard no screams, just silence, shooting,” she said. “I heard shooting, very long time, and I was thinking, when will this stop? I was thinking that my life was finished.”

In all 26 people stayed in the storage room for three hours while police methodically searched the building and tried to determine whether the gunman was still alive and whether he was holding any hostages. They stayed in contact with police by cell phone, switching from one phone to another when their batteries ran out. Others hid in closets and under desks.

Linh Phat Voong, 42, a Vietnamese immigrant, lived in nearby Johnson City. According to his sister, he is an American citizen who has been in the country for 28 years. The authorities have no idea why he went on this shooting spree. His sister said he had gone to take language classes earlier at the civic association and she had not heard from him since. She claimed that she did not know that he was involved in the shootings.

“The police just called me and said he got shot,” she said. 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.”

Police searched Voong’s house and carried out three computer hard drives, a brown canvas rifle case, a briefcase, a small suitcase and several paper bags.

The American Civic Association, Inc. located at 131 Front Street, Binghamton, NY provides immigration and refugee services, including language classes, to many in the area. It released a statement saying it shares “this grief with the victims’ families, our community and the entire nation.

Gov. David Paterson said the massacre was probably “the worst tragedy and senseless crime in the history of this city.” Noting mass killings in Alabama and Oakland, Calif., last month, he said: “When are we going to be able to curb the kind of violence that is so fraught and so rapid that we can’t even keep track of the incidents?

President Barack Obama said he was shocked and saddened by the shooting, which he called an “act of senseless violence.” He said he and his wife, Michelle Obama, were praying for the victims, their families and the people of Binghamton.

Some people were actually taking their examinations to become US citizens at the time of the shooting, according to US Vice President Joe Biden. “We have got to figure out a way to deal with this senseless, senseless violence,” said Biden.

Representative Maurice Hinchey, whose district includes Binghamton, said “He went there purposefully and intentionally,” Hinchey was quoted as saying. “I can’t believe that this wonderful, beautiful little city would have this kind of experience.

This was the third mass killing this week, preceded by:

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