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The death toll rose to 16 today with the...

By
ED LION

LONDON -- The death toll rose to 16 today with the deaths of two more victims in the shooting rampage in Hungerford, the English country town where a gunman calmly walked through streets spraying bullets everywhere.

Myrtle Gibbs, 63, and Ian Playle died of gunshot wounds and were the latest fatal victims of Michael Ryan, 27, the mass murderer who killed himself when cornered by police on Wednesday, Thames Valley police said.

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Newspapers published the first recent photo ofRyan. It showed a pudgy man with a wispy beard wearing a camouflage hat and an army-style jacket. The picture was taken a year ago when he doing construction work at a theme park near his home in Hungerford 60 miles west of London.

Relatives of the gun enthusiast who owned five firearms including a Kalashnikov automatic rifle began to speak.

Ryan's uncle, Stephen Fairbrass, said, 'Now we must live with the shame of being connected with this man. ... He didn't seem big enough in any sense of the word to go out and do such a terrible thing. He never seemed to have the will to do anything properly.'

Gibbs had been on a life support machine at Princess Margaret Hospital in Swindon, near Hungerford, with severe gunshot wounds in the abdomen until she died today.

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Her husband, Victor, died during the rampage when he tried to protect his wheelchair-bound wife.

Ryan, 27, a hometown man described as a loner, killed his 60-year-old mother Wednesday and then, armed with an automatic rifle and pistols, walked down the main street of Hungerford blasting away at anything that moved.

Fourteen people were killed initially -- 15 including Ryan himself - and 16 were wounded, eight seriously.

The worst gun rampage in modern British history, Ryan's deadly spree in Hungerford stunned the nation and prompted calls for the tightening of the country's already strict firarms laws.

In Hungerford on Thursday, bullet-riddled cars were towed away and firemen with trucks and hoses finished washing blood from the streets.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher interrupted her vacation and flew in to visit the wounded, all shot by the gun enthusiast who had licenses for three pistols and two rifles.

The prime minister's office said Thatcher 'was deeply shocked by the tragedy at Hungerford and grieves with the families of all those who have been bereaved and whose loved ones have been injured.'

The TV-AM breakfast television network canceled cartoons and other light entertainment. Newspaper editorialists expressed shock that such a bloodbath could occur in the traditionally peaceful English countryside.

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A chorus of members of Parliament called for tougher controls on the possession of firearms.

In Britain, a person can obtain the right to own a pistol or rifle only after a police check on his background and membership in a gun club for six months. Certificates for automatic weapons can be obtained only directly from the office of the British cabinet secretary responsible for law and order.

Home Office Minister Douglas Hogg said the government will 'look at the law to see how this kind of man could these weapons ... If changes need to be made, either in law or in practice we will not hesitate to make them.'

Neighbors of Ryan, 27, said he was a 'classic loner' and a mother's boy who drifted from job to job.

Majorie Jackson, whom Ryan shot in the back as he fired an automatic rifle indiscriminantly, said, 'He looked as though he was a maniac. There were bodies everywhere. You see it in the movies but you never think it's going to happen in your own street.'

District Police Chief Colin Smith said he still had no idea why Ryan brought mayhem to Hungerford, 'firing at anything that moved' as he walked around the streets of his hometown and setting fire to his own home.

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Among the first to die was Ryan's mother, Dorothy, 60, who was found outside the Ryan's burning house near the family dog, which was also slain.

After the shooting spree that lasted only minutes, Ryan, dressed in military fatigues, hid in a second-floor classroom of a local highschool that was later besieged by police who tried to talk him into surrender.

'He was lucid and reasonable,' Smith said at a Thursday news conference. 'He expressed concern that he had shot his mother. He expressed the view that it was strange that he could shoot other people and couldn't shoot himself.'

But shortly afterward, Ryan shot himself with a pistol. Police said there was no suicide note.

Neighbors said Ryan was polite, lived with his doting mother and although he was known as a gun collector never did anything that could foreshadow Wednesday's killing spree.

Neighbor Linda Lepetit said, 'He was always polite, did things for us, came around, spoke to the kids.'

But neighbor Dennis Morley told The London Evening Standard newspaper, 'Michael Ryan was a spoiled little wimp. He used to get everything he wanted from his mother and in return, he used to beat her up.'

Smith, the chief constable of Thames Valley police, said Ryan 'was known to officers and it was hard to believe he was anything other than normal.'

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