Those who were killed were on the main floor of the American Civic Association in Binghamton.
The local media has named the man as Jiverly Voong, 42, who also went by the name of Wong and Linh Voong of Johnson City. Voong was recently laid off from a job said U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-Hurley Friday.
Police chief Joseph Zikuski said there were “14 confirmed dead in the building. We removed safely 37 people. Four people we removed are wounded. All four are listed in critical condition. “A lone gunman entered the building and immediately shot her and another receptionist,” Mr Zikuski said. “Unfortunately that [second] receptionist is now deceased. Then he went into another room and shot several more people.”
The police are saying that the suspect had ties to the center.
The police were able to tell what was going on in the building because of a wounded receptionist who played dead called 911 to get the police to the scene. She talked on her cell phone for 90 minutes feeding information to the police. She is being called a hero for the information she was able to give to the police despite being seriously injured with a wound to her abdomen.
The center was filled with people who were taking a class to gain their U.S. citizenship.
“I heard the shots, every shot. I heard no screams, just silence, shooting,” said Zhanar Tokhtabayeva, a 30-year-old from Kazakhstan who was in an English class when her teacher screamed for everyone to go to the storage room. “I heard shooting, very long time, and I was thinking, when will this stop? I was thinking that my life was finished.”
Experts are saying that the attack was premeditated. CBS reports:
“It obviously was premeditated,” said Binghamton Police Chief Joseph Zikuski, noting the gunman blocked the rear exit with his car. “He made sure nobody could escape.”
A senior law enforcement agent has said that the authorities have spoken to the suspect’s mother. While his sister has claimed disbelief that her brother could be the shooter the car that was blocking the back entrance to the building was registered to the suspect’s father. Voong and his family immigrated to the U.S. when he was young.
Press Connects is reporting the authorities left the home of the suspect carrying computer equipment, bags and two long rifle boxes. Voong had two handguns registered under his name reports say.
The suspect was a naturalized U.S. citizen who was unemployed at the time of the shooting. The Vietnamese immigrant was recently employed by a vacuum repair shop. He was an engineer who at one time worked at Endicott Interconnect Technologies, a high-tech electronics company in Endicott, New York. At Endicott the man went by the name Vaughn.
“He was quiet — not a violent person,” said former co-worker Christine Guy, who now lives in Wellington, Colorado. “I can’t believe he would do something like this.
While some co-workers and neighbors are painting the picture of a quiet man Kevin Greene, 41, who worked with the suspect at the Shop Vac assembly plant in Binghamton prior to the shop’s closure in November remembers the man differently.
The New York Daily News reports:
“He went to target practice on Saturday. He said he had two guns, one in his glove compartment. He was always talking about his guns.”
Greene told FBI investigators he and a buddy used to joke about how they thought Voong “would come in mad one day and shoot people. He seemed like that kind of guy.”
That sentiment has been carried by another worker, Donald Ackley who said that his co-worker made comments like he wanted to kill the President. It’s unclear whether it was President Obama or President Bush the suspect wanted to kill.
Gov. David Paterson said the massacre was probably “the worst tragedy and senseless crime in the history of this city.” Noting mass killings in Alabama and Oakland, Calif., last month, he said: “When are we going to be able to curb the kind of violence that is so fraught and so rapid that we can’t even keep track of the incidents?”
The center was holding class “for those who want to become citizens of the United States of America, who wanted to be part of the American Dream, and so tragically may have had that hope thwarted today,” the governor said. “But there still is an American dream, and all of us who are Americans will try to heal this very, very deep wound in the city of Binghamton.”
CNN reports that President Obama also expressed his sadness about the event.
“Michelle and I were shocked and deeply saddened to learn about the act of senseless violence in Binghamton, New York, today,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, their families and the people of Binghamton.”