Binghamton officials defend response to massacre

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. (AP) — Even if police officers had immediately entered the immigrant center where a gunman had just shot down 13 people, the victims’ injuries were so severe that none would have survived, a county prosecutor said Sunday.

But police didn’t enter the American Civic Association until nearly 45 minutes after the first 911 calls came in at 10:30 a.m. Friday. They began removing the wounded about 15 minutes after that.

It took more than two hours to clear the building. Survivors reported huddling for hours in a basement, not knowing whether they were still in danger after the gunman, 41-year-old Jiverly Wong, killed 13 people.

Medical examiners who conducted autopsies reported that the victims’ injuries were so severe they would not have survived, Broome County District Attorney Gerald F. Mollen said.

“We definitively can say nobody was shot after police arrival, and nobody who had been shot could have been saved even if the police had walked in the door within the first minute,” Mollen said.

The prosecutor’s comments came at a news conference Sunday, an hour before officials released a list of names and home countries of the victims.

Four Chinese were among those killed, and a Chinese student was also shot in the arm and leg but survived, officials said. The other victims came from Haiti, Pakistan, the Philippines, Iraq, Brazil, Vietnam and the United States.

The first 911 calls came in at 10:30 a.m., police Chief Joseph Zikuski said at a news conference. The callers spoke broken English, and it took dispatchers 2 minutes to sort out what was happening, he said.

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