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14 killed, 4 wounded in US shooting rampage
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Fourteen people, including a suspected gunman, were killed and at least four others wounded in a shooting rampage that broke out in Binghamton of the U.S. state of New York on Friday morning, local authorities said in the afternoon.

Police investigate at the shooting scene outside the American Civic Center in Binghampton, New York, April 3, 2009. A gunman killed at least 14 people at American Civic Center, an immigration services center in Binghamton, after walking in and randomly opening fire on people in the center on Friday. [Yu Jun/Xinhua)

The gunman entered the building of the American Civic Association (ACA), a non-governmental agency that provides services for immigrants and refugees, and started shooting at the people inside, Binghamton Police Chief Joseph Zikuski said at a press conference held nearly seven hours after the attack.

Fourteen people were "confirmed dead" in the shooting, and the police believed that the suspected gunman was among them, Zikuski said, adding that 37 people survived the massacre, including four wounded who are "in critical condition."

Although some media reports said that the gunman was a 42-year-old man from New York state, possibly a Vietnamese who killed himself after committing the shooting, Zikuski refused to identify the suspect at the press conference, saying that the police were not 100 percent sure about it.

The police now believe that the suspect should be the one who rented a car and used it to block the back exit of the building, but a lot of work still needs to be done before a final identification, explained the police chief.

Initial investigation showed that the suspect had used handgun in the shooting, as two handguns were recovered at the scene.

A woman first reported the shooting to the police by calling 911 at 10:31 a.m., but she is now in surgery and could not provide any further details, the police said.

Initial media reports said there was also a hostage situation in the building, with the gunman holding hostage as many as 20 to 40 people. But the local authorities didn't mention it at the press conference.

Journalists wait near the shooting scene of the American Civic Center in Binghampton, New York, April 3, 2009. [Yu Jun/Xinhua]

According to the Chinese Consulate-general in New York, a Chinese student was among those wounded in the shooting.

The male student, who was taking a language course in the ACA building, suffered two gunshot wounds and is now in hospital with no danger of life, consulate sources told Xinhua, declining to give any further details.

At the same press conference, New York State Governor David Paterson condemned the shooting as a "senseless act of violence." In an earlier statement, he called Friday "a tragic day" for the state.

In a statement on behalf of himself and first lady Michelle, U.S. President Barack Obama, currently on a European tour following the London G20 summit, said that he was "shocked and deeply saddened" to learn the Binghamton shooting.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, their families and the people of Binghamton," he said in the statement. "We don't yet know all the facts, but my administration is actively monitoring the situation and the vice president is in touch with governor David Paterson and local officials to track development."

Upon hearing news about the attack, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who was in New York City some 189 miles southeast of Binghamton, said "It's time that we've got to figure a way to deal with this senseless, senseless violence."

The American Civic Center is sealed off by police in Binghampton, New York, April 3, 2009. [Yu Jun/Xinhua]

It was the third shooting incident since last weekend in the United States.

A gunman waged a shooting spree at a nursing home in Carthage, North Carolina on Sunday morning, killing eight and injuring three others. Another case in a townhouse in Santa Clara, California, on Sunday night left six dead, including two children.

With gun control a highly controversial topic nationwide, the United States sees about 30,000 people get killed annually in gun-related violence.

(Xinhua News Agency April 4, 2009)

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