The gunman who killed 13 people in a rampage at an immigrant community center and then committed suicide was wearing body armor, indicating he was prepared to battle with law enforcers, the Binghamton police chief said Saturday.

The gunman, 41-year-old Jiverly Wong, had been taking classes at the American Civic Association, which helps immigrants assimilate, until last month, Police Chief Joseph Zikuski said.

Wong had a permit for the two handguns he used, Zikuski said. Most of the victims had multiple gunshot wounds, he said.

Wong, who used the alias Jiverly Voong, believed people close to him were making fun of him for his poor English language skills, Zikuski said.

Wong was ethnically Chinese but from Vietnam, a friend said Saturday. He was angry about recently losing a job, couldn’t find work and complained that his unemployment checks were only $200 a week, said Hue Huynh, a Binghamton grocery store proprietor whose husband worked with Wong years ago.

Wong had driven a truck in California before recently returning to Binghamton, only to lose a job there, Huynh said.

“He’s upset he don’t have a job here. He come back and want to work,” she said. Her husband tried to cheer him by telling him he was still young and there was plenty of time to find work, but he complained about his “bad luck,” she said.

On Friday, Wong barricaded the American Civic Association community center’s back door with his car, walked in the front and started shooting with two handguns. Within minutes, a receptionist, 12 immigrants taking a citizenship class and the gunman were dead.

Another receptionist, 61-year-old Shirley DeLucia, played dead after she was shot in the abdomen and called 911 to get police to the scene within two minutes.

Zikuski said the injured receptionist stayed on the phone for 90 minutes, “feeding us information constantly,” despite a serious wound in the abdomen.

“She’s a hero in her own right,” he said.

DeLucia was in critical condition at a hospital Saturday, along with another victim in the same condition and another in serious condition. A fourth victim was in stable condition at another hospital.

Thirty-seven others made it out, including 26 who hid for hours in a basement boiler room while police tried to determine whether the gunman was still alive and whether he was holding any hostages, Zikuski said.

Investigators said they had yet to establish a motive for the shooting. It was at least the fifth fatal mass shooting in the U.S. in the past month, and the nation’s deadliest since April 2007, when 32 people and a gunman died at Virginia Tech.

Wong was found dead in an office with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, a satchel containing ammunition slung around his neck, authorities said. Police found two handguns â a 9 mm and a .45-caliber â and a hunting knife.

A woman who answered the phone at a listing for Henry D. Voong said she was Jiverly Voong’s sister but would not give her name. She said her brother had been in the country for 28 years and had citizenship.

Accounts varied about the suspect’s work history. Zikuski told NBC’s “Today” show that the shooter had worked in Binghamton for Shop-Vac, which closed in November. The sister told the AP on Friday that her brother worked at a company where “they make the vacuums.”

Initial reports suggested Voong had recently been let go from IBM, which has roots in the region, but a person at IBM said there was no record of a Jiverly Voong ever working there. His father, Henry Voong, does work there as a contractor.

Huynh said her husband had worked with Voong years ago at IBM and that he had recently been let go from IBM again after returning from California.

The attack at the American Civic Association, which helps immigrants settle in this country, came just after 10 a.m. as people from all over the globe â Latin America, China, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Africa â gathered for English and citizenship lessons in an effort to become a bigger part of their new home.

Wong parked his car against the back door before barging through the front and opening fire, apparently without saying a word. He then entered a room just off the reception area and fired on a citizenship class while terrified people scrambled into a boiler room and a storage room.

Abdelhak Ettouri, a Moroccan immigrant who lives in nearby Johnson City, told the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin he found the back door locked when he tried to flee, then ran to hide in the basement as he heard 12 to 14 shots: “Tak-tak-tak-tak.”

Hoi Nguyen of Binghamton said his 36-year-old daughter Phuong Nguyen, who survived the massacre, was taking an English class in the basement when the gunfire started.

“She said it sounded like a firecracker and everyone in the class was startled,” he said. “Then the teacher locked the door, called the police, then told everyone they couldn’t leave the room.”

Police arrived in minutes, heard no gunfire and waited for about an hour before entering the building to make sure it was safe for officers. They then spent two hours searching the building. They led a number of men out in plastic handcuffs while trying to sort out victims from the killer or killers.

The shootings took place in a neighborhood of homes and small businesses in downtown Binghamton, a city of about 47,000 situated 140 miles northwest of New York City.

The region was the home to Endicott-Johnson shoe company and the birthplace of IBM, which between them employed tens of thousands of workers before the shoe company closed a decade ago and IBM downsized in recent years.

A string of attacks in the U.S. in the last month left 44 people dead in all.

A gunman killed 10 people and himself in Samson, Ala.; shootings that began with a traffic stop in Oakland, Calif., left four police officers and the gunman dead; an apparent murder-suicide in Santa Clara, Calif., left six dead; and a gunman went on a rampage at a nursing home Sunday, killing seven elderly residents and a nurse who cared for them.

Archived comments

“…and waited for about an hour before entering the building to make sure it was safe for officers.”


Unbelievable. What do we pay these guys for? Hello!?! Ever hear of “to protect and serve”? Get in there and protect those innocent people. Being a policeman comes with certain risks and, yes, there are safety concerns. That’s why we buy you all the cute little pieces of gear you want to wear. That’s why we send you to myriad training programs. That’s why we hired you!

If all you are going to do is sit out on the roads and give people speeding tickets, only to cower in fear whenever the next Binghamton or Columbine happens, who the F needs you? You’re fired. All of you. Seriously.

If you want to be thought of as heroes and not just fat, slow, donut eating fascists, you are going to have to start acting like heroes.


4/4/2009 9:57:14 AM

Only in America do we tolerate immigrants setting up their own isolated parasitic subcultures and refusing to learn English.


4/4/2009 10:14:35 AM

j_w_a_s, I think your analogy is totaly unfair, “we” pay for very little of a police officers equipment or training, they are responsible for a good bit of that expense, even their guns are purchased by them.

I don’t believe it makes any sense for their protocol to in clude any more risk taking than a situation would already create, a dead or injured police officer can not “serve and protect” anybody…………..


4/4/2009 10:25:44 AM

Jesus_was_a_socialist The tactical training they get is a joke.They have no money in their budget for this type of training.


4/4/2009 10:30:26 AM

Their training is a joke and hence, they’re a joke. What do we need them for?

That poor receptionist was in there shot and bleeding while the ones we’ve hired to protect her and us, waited outside. She’s a hero. So tell me what we need the police for. They’re cowards. Heroes save people.


4/4/2009 10:55:18 AM

I wonder how Lou Dobbs feels about this?


4/4/2009 10:58:34 AM

Another cowardly POS takes people out with him instead of just offing himself like he should have.


4/4/2009 11:05:54 AM

thecondoguy1 – that used to be true, but no longer. there is very little the officer is expected to pay for, although it does vary from city to city. taxpayers foot the bill.


4/4/2009 11:08:33 AM

Cops aren’t here to serve and protect the public. They exist to serve and protect the government.


4/4/2009 11:11:40 AM

I have to agree. The police should have been in that building. We do not pay them to sit outside for an hour and wait for the “coast to be clear”. The receptionist needed medical attention ASAP, not an hour from when the police arrived at the building. I am sorry, but there is no excuse for that. Taxpayers do “foot the bill” for that fancy riot and SWAT gear the law enforcement wear for such situations. I guess today’s law enforcement is not there to “serve and protect”, they are there to harass and annoy citizens.


4/4/2009 11:16:42 AM

Why should they in go after the crazy murderer when people are speeding? Not to mention drug possession and prostitution. Those are the real crimes in society, not these silly multiple murders.


4/4/2009 11:21:30 AM

JWAS hit the nail on the head.

The cops/SWAT only “play” heroic tough guys when they have little or no resistance, such as when crashing the homes of stoned hippie growing pot, or taking down unarmed female prostitutes in motel rooms.

If they’re faced with any moderate or near equivalent resistance, they cower in fear making sure “their” well-being is safe above all others, especially the citizen victims. This isn’t new, it’s in their training, and exemplified time and time again from Columbine to this tragedy.

It’s no surprise that it mimics U$ Foreign Policy — only attack and invade far smaller, weaker and poorer sovereign nations, nations without any air force, without any navy, without any functional air defenses.

It’s institutionalized bullyism. It’s the American way!

What is amazing is the number of fools who consider this type of behavior to be “heroic”.

America gets the law enforcement it deserves.


4/4/2009 11:57:43 AM

There were over 100 police officers present with multitudes of firepower up against one dude with two pistols. Wow cops are lame! What a bunch of cowards! Out of their elements when they aren’t busting kids for smoking pot.


4/4/2009 12:20:45 PM

“Uriah”, there’s hope for you yet when it comes to correcting your beliefs about the right to keep and bear arms. You can’t make your “American gun madness” comments, and what you say at 11:57am, and be morally consistent.

Remember what we pro-RKBA folks say? “The police are only minutes away when seconds count…”


4/4/2009 12:26:21 PM

There is a reason cops are called pigs. Bakers aren’t called pigs. Neither are bus drivers. Clerks at gas stations are not known as pigs. In fact, police officer is one of the few occupations that has such a negative moniker. There are reasons for that. I don’t know anyone that hasn’t had at least one negative experience with these mindless bullies.


4/4/2009 12:59:31 PM

Those SWAT Team members are a bunch of Gutless Wonders.

Meebe they thought the killer was one of their own and were figuring out how to protect him?


4/4/2009 2:43:16 PM

As a result of Columbine, police across the nation have received training in ACTIVE shooter situations.Their training is to immediately enter and take out the gunman.This is only for a gunman that is actively killing people.If there is not active killing when officers arrive or while they are there, they do not enter.Police don’t want to push a gunman that has hostages to start killing people by rushing in.Most of these situations are resolved through negotiations.A great example of a police response to an active shooter was at the high school in Baily CO.


4/4/2009 7:55:42 PM