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Killer's rampage fired by job loss and depression

THE man who police say killed 13 people in a shooting rampage at an immigrant community center in the New York state town of Binghamton was depressed and angry over losing his job and about his poor English skills, officials said yesterday.

Police Chief Joseph Zikuski told NBC television's "Today" that people "degraded and disrespected" the gunman over his poor English.

Mayor Matthew Ryan, speaking on ABC's "Good Morning America," said the man, believed to be 42-year-old Vietnamese immigrant Jiverly Voong, was angry about his language issues and his lack of employment.

On Friday, he barricaded the American Civic Association community center's back door with his car, walked in the front and started shooting with two handguns. Within minutes, a receptionist, 12 immigrants taking a citizenship class and the gunman were dead.

Another receptionist, who played dead after she was shot in the abdomen, called the emergency dispatcher to get police to the scene within two minutes.

Zikuski said the injured receptionist stayed on the phone for 90 minutes, "feeding us information constantly" despite a serious wound in the abdomen. "She's a hero in her own right," he said.

Four people were critically wounded in the massacre, and 37 others made it out, including 26 who hid for hours in a basement boiler room while police tried to determine whether the gunman was still alive and whether he was holding any hostages, Zikuski said.

The shooting took place in a neighborhood of homes and small businesses in downtown Binghamton, a city of about 47,000 situated 225 kilometers northwest of New York City.

Police said they had yet to establish a motive for the shooting, which was at least the fifth deadly mass shooting in the United States in the past month.

The killer carried identity documents with the name of 42-year-old Jiverly Voong, of nearby Johnson City, New York, but that was believed to be an alias, said a law enforcement official.

The man was found dead in an office with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, a satchel containing ammunition slung around his neck. Police found two handguns - a 9-millimeter and a .45-caliber - and a hunting knife.

Zikuski told "Today" that the shooter had worked in Binghamton for Shop-Vac, which closed in November. The gunman's sister said on Friday that her brother worked at a company where "they make the vacuums."

The mayor told ABC that the gunman "had lost a job recently and was somewhat angry."

"He had language issues, didn't speak English that well, and was really concerned about his employment situation," Mayor Ryan said.

Initial reports suggested Voong had recently been let go from IBM, which has roots in the region, but a person at IBM said there was no record of a Jiverly Voong ever working there. His father, Henry Voong, does work there.

The attack at the American Civic Association, which helps immigrants settle in the US, came just after 10am as people from all over the globe gathered for English and citizenship lessons.

The gunman parked his car against the back door before barging through the front and opening fire, apparently without saying a word. He then entered a room just off the reception area and fired on a citizenship class while terrified people scrambled into a boiler room and a storage room.


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