Video: Fourteen Dead in American Civic Association Shooting


binghamptoom-hostages[Video below.] Updated: Fourteen are dead after a gunman went on a shooting spree inside the American Civic Association in Binghamton, according to Binghamton Police Chief Joseph Zikuski. One of the dead has a satchel around his neck with ammunition and is believed to be the shooter, Zikuski said. Two handguns were recovered at the scene, but there was “absolutely no indication any rifle was used.”

A federal law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity told The Associated Press the shooter had identification saying he was 42-year-old Jiverly Voong. The name is an alias that the man has used in the past, said the official.

Zikuski didn’t name the man believed to be the shooter, but said the prime suspect was known to frequent the Civic Association.

The gunman entered the building through the front while firing. He had already blocked the back door with his car.

According to scanner reports, a 1993 Toyota at the scene was registered to Henry Voong of Johnson City. Zikuski said the perpetrator borrowed a car to apparently attend a class at the Civic Association.

The gunman had recently been let go from IBM, said Rep. Maurice Hinchey, whose district includes Binghamton. The gunman opened fire on a citizenship class, he told The Associated Press.

The first two people to be shot were receptionists near the building’s entrance. One woman died, Zikuski said. “I don’t think there was any conversation. He just came in and shot her,” Zikuski said.

The other receptionist, who was shot in the stomach, survived – playing dead as the gunman went to another room and began shooting. From under a desk, she called 911, said Zikuski, who arrived at the scene within three minutes of receiving the call.

At one point more than 40 hostages were being held in the building at 131 Front Street – 15 in a closet and 26 in the boiler room. At 2:40 p.m., Binghamton Police indicated the situation was over and that a SWAT team was making sure there were no people inside the building.

“We had to repeatedly reassure (the people in the basement) over the next couple of hours that we were coming to get them,” Zikuski said.

Zikuski said police removed 37 people from the building, including four injured people who are in critical condition. The dead remained in the building this afternoon.

Zikuski said they debriefed the receptionist who survived and she said it wasn’t unusual to have 100 people or more in the center. “I don’t know if anybody except the receptionist who survived actually saw the shooter,” he said.

Omri Yigal, from Binghamton, said his wife Dolores Yigal, both 53, was in the building. Dolores, who is from the Philippines and wants to become a citizen, was taking English classes at the center. Even now, he doesn’t know what has happened with her.

“I’ve been walking back and forth from (Catholic Charities) to the scene and back home,” Omri Yigal said. “The only thing I have right now is hope.” Yigal said a police captain told him it was a “gruesome scene down there.”

Police and ambulance crews began staging at Oak and Main Street, the site of the Binghamton High School, shortly after 10:30 a.m. today. Local apartments were evacuated and businesses, including a nearby nursing home, were placed under lockdown. The high school was also locked down.

The three patients at Wilson Regional Medical Center ranged in condition, with at least one critical, said spokesman Jon Tooley. One patient was treated at Lourdes Hospital and is in stable condition, spokeswoman Kathy Kramer said.

Both hospitals postponed all elective surgeries and called in extra personnel to staff their emergency rooms during the crisis.

Shortly after noon, about 10 people were released from the building, with hands on their heads. The police searched some of them.

Around 12:40 p.m., another 10 were released from the rear of the building, clad in white sheets. They were shaken and hugged each other as they boarded a BC Transit bus. All are being considered suspects until they are cleared by police.

Family members of the hostages and victims were being told to gather at 232 Main St. in Binghamton, while more ambulance crews were on standby. A crisis hotline has been established by Broome County government for community and family members who might have had relatives present at the American Civic Association shooting incident. The number is 607-778-3911.

The suspect was initially described as an Asian male in his 20s, between 5-feet 8-inches and 6 feet tall, wearing a bright green nylon jacket and dark-rimmed glasses.

Broome Community College Assistant Professor Tuong Hung Nguyen was asked to work with police to communicate with the shooter. Nguyen is fluent in Vietnamese.

Police shut down Main, North and Oak streets to respond to the incident, as well as Front Street at Gerard Avenue. The Memorial Bridge was also shut down, and police taped off the corner of Front and North.

Some streets were beginning to reopen in the area late this afternoon, but Binghamton police asked people to avoid the area as much as possible as they continued work at the scene. “We still have a lot to do,” one patrolman said.

Broome County activated its Emergency Operations Center at the Broome County Public Safety Facility on Front Street, to help with the emergency situation, said Brett Chellis, director of emergency services for Broome.

Marsha Marony, office of development with Catholic Charities said the only info they have is what they’re getting from the media. She said Catholic Charities had 50 family members and friends who were in the center and now have 25 counselors trying to help their families.

“Trying to help people get through this. The worry is getting to them,” said Marony.

Gov. David A. Paterson issued a statement, saying, “This is a tragic day for New York.”

Paterson and Rep. Maurice Hinchey headed to Binghamton this afternoon, along with Sen. Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton.

Libous left the Senate floor this afternoon to head back home to Binghamton. The Senate extended the same courtesy to Libous as they did to ailing Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, D-Mount Vernon, on Thursday, allowing Libous to vote in advance of the budget bills so he could leave.

“Our prayers are certainly with the family members. I know it was at the American Civic Society. I have a lot of very, very close and dear friends there,” Libous said on the Senate floor. “As we get details, we’re going to need to do whatever we can to comfort the families.”

The White House has called Binghamton Mayor Matthew Ryan, city officials said.

The American Civic Association helps immigrants and refugees with immigration and personal counseling, resettlement, citizenship, family reunification and translators. It also intervenes with emergencies, including fighting, hunger and homelessness.

 For a video of the activity in Binghampton, click below:

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{Binghampton Press/Sun Bulletin/AP/ Newscenter}