People have been shot and killed in Binghamton, N.Y., when a gunman entered the civic center and opened fire, according to city authorities and reports from the scene.
“There have been fatalities,” an emergency dispatcher for the Binghamton police said by telephone. “We can’t confirm the exact the number.”
[*] http://www.latimes.com/media/thumbnails/photogallery/2009-04/45961439-03102915.jpg Photos: At least 4 shot, hostages…
Radio reporters quoting city officials said there have been perhaps 12 or 13 people killed and as many as 41 initially taken hostage. The numbers could not be confirmed as the standoff around the building continued.
Earlier reports said at least four had been shot and several taken to hospitals. At least some of the hostages managed to flee or escaped. Apartment houses and local businesses have been locked down as officials sealed off the area.
City SWAT teams and FBI hostage negotiators were rushing to the scene, the American Civic Association building in downtown Binghamton, an upstate New York city that is the home of Binghamton University.
Video shot at the scene showed armed police eyeing the building as they sealed off the area. Stretchers were shown being rushed to an ambulance.
The center, according to its website, is often crowded with immigrants seeking help dealing with officials or taking classes. It “assists immigrants and refugees with immigration and personal counseling, resettlement, citizenship, family reunification, interpreters, and translators.”
The incident began mid-morning when a man reportedly entered the building with a high-powered rifle. Shots were fired, according to witnesses interviewed on MSNBC.
Four people were removed from the building on stretchers and taken to hospitals, and 10 more ambulances were called, the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin reported.
Mayor Matthew Ryan told the newspaper that there was a hostage situation involving a gunman with a high-powered rifle.