SEASCALE, England - A taxi driver drove his vehicle on a shooting rampage across a tranquil stretch of northwest England on Wednesday, methodically killing 12 people and wounding 25 before turning the gun on himself, officials said.

The rampage in the county of Cumbria was Britain's deadliest mass shooting since 1996, and it jolted a country where handguns are banned and multiple shootings rare.

The body of the gunman, Derrick Bird, 52, was found in woods near Boot, a hamlet popular with vacationers in England's hilly, scenic Lake District. Police said two weapons were recovered from the scene.

Eight of the wounded were hospitalized, with three in critical condition. Queen Elizabeth II, who rarely issues statements responding to news events, said she shared in "the grief and horror of the whole country" and passed on her sympathy to the families of the victims.

The shootings had "shocked the people of Cumbria and around the country to the core," Police Deputy Chief Constable Stuart Hyde said.

Police said it was too early to say what the killer's motive was, or whether the shootings had been random. Some reports said that Bird had quarreled with fellow cabdrivers the night before the killings.

Peter Leder, a taxi driver who knew Bird, said he had seen the gunman Tuesday and did not see anything amiss, though he was struck by Bird's departing words.

"When he left he said, 'See you, Peter, but I won't see you again,' " Leder told Channel 4 News.

The first shootings were reported in the coastal town of Whitehaven, about 350 miles northwest of London. Witnesses said the dead there included two of Bird's fellow cabbies.

Police warned residents to stay indoors as they tracked the gunman across the county. Witnesses described seeing the gunman shooting from the window of his car.

Victims died in Seascale and Egremont, near Whitehaven, and in Gosforth, where a farmer's son was shot dead in a field. Workers at the nearby Sellafield nuclear processing plant were ordered to stay inside.

Hyde said there were 30 separate crime scenes. Many bodies remained on the ground late Wednesday, covered with sheets, awaiting the region's small and overstretched force of forensic officers.

Barrie Walker, a doctor in Seascale who certified one of the deaths, told the BBC that victims had been shot in the face, apparently with a shotgun.

About 600,000 people in Britain legally own shotguns, most of them farmers and hunters.