Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Terror in Hungerford

Ryan's Rampage

Dorothy Ryan
Dorothy Ryan
As she got out of her car to find her home in flames, she saw the dead bodies in the yards of her neighbors and the crumpled cars along the street.  All of her belongings, her memories and her mementos of twenty-seven years were going up in smoke.  She also saw her son with a gun in his hands.  As she pushed past people who tried to hold her back, she shouted to Ryan--Michael! Michael!--asking him why he was doing this.  She was standing right next to Ivor Jacksons car.  He dared not move.  In fact, she saw him, opened the car door, and cried out in anguish.  He then heard her say, Dont shoot me.  She was talking to her son.

But thats just what Ryan did.  He shot her twice, once in the leg and once in the stomach, and she fell to the ground where she stood, writhing onto her face.  People watched from their houses as Ryan walked up to his mother and brought the muzzle of his weapon just four inches shy of her back.  He shot her twice more, killing her.  He ignored the police loudspeakers from the helicopter overhead, demanding that he give up his guns.  They also warned people to remain in their houses.  Ryan moved on.

For some reason, the police failed to close in.   Even if they had, they werent armed and would have to wait for specially trained forces to take over.  One officer stealthily closed in to get a glimpse of Ryans weapons and he phoned this information to those in charge.  This was a greater threat than they had initially realized, he insisted.  To attempt apprehension of a man so well armed would be extremely dangerous. 

Hungerford specially-trained officers
Hungerford specially-trained officers

While police forces assembled closer to town and called in the specially-trained officers from the Tactical Forearms Unit (TFU) forty miles away, Ryan left the area.    He abandoned his mothers body where it lay in the lane and walked across the school playing field, shooting randomly.  He had plenty of ammunition to kill many more people if he chose to.  He shot at another elderly woman who yelled at him, wounding her badly, and then shot a man walking his dog.  Francis Butler, 26, died from the three bullets from the AK-47 that tore through him.  Someone tried to help him but was warned back with a shout that the shooter was returning.   Vulnerable and bleeding badly, Butler died. 

Marcus Bernard
Marcus Bernard
Ryan abandoned the M1 carbine and continued with the pistol and AK-47.  He failed to notice a little boy on a slide who was watching him not far away.  But Ryan did shoot at another boy on a bicycle, missing him.  Then he fired the AK-47 at a cab driver, Marcus Bernard, who was on his way to the hospital to see his newborn son and who had slowed down to take a look at what was happening.  Bernard lost a significant portion of his head.  In a moment of apparent indecision, Ryan then threw the powerful weapon away from himself in what witnesses later described as disgust.  But then he picked it up again and continued to walk.   The direction in which he was moving, by some reports, would take him into the busy town and away from the area contained by the growing force of armed police, but a map of his actual route in Mass Murders indicates that while he started out that way, he circled back and walked away from town.  Along the way, he wounded two more people.  One victim was rescued by a heroic man who pulled him to safety as Ryan closed in for the kill.

Douglas Wainwright
Douglas Wainwright
Unmoved, Ryan shot two people who came through in a car, killing the man and wounding the woman.  As Pantziarka points out, they were the parents of the police officer who had done the obligatory checks a few months earlier that had allowed Ryan to get a modified license to be able to purchase such powerful firearms.  These two victims were in town that day to visit their son.  While he would later say that he had no legal grounds for denying Ryan the license, he would also acknowledge his part in his parents shooting.

Another van drove into the area and the driver and passenger found themselves under attack.  The driver, hit, ran into a pole and slumped over the steering wheel.  His friend was horrified.

Before the police could coordinate their efforts, the press moved in, getting pictures of the dead along the path that Ryan had left behind and entering homes under the deceptive guise of crime scene personnel.  The bloodshed they captured painted a gruesome picture of the trail of a killer, with an average of one person killed per minute during the most intense part of the rampage.  Some of the press helicopters got in the way of the police, making it difficult for officials to track the shooter, and they lost sight of him.  Ryan did not care.  He seemed unaware of anything except his obsession with destroying whoever or whatever living thing crossed his path.

Categories
Advertisement