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Police were piecing together on Saturday why a jobless US immigrant snapped and launched a murderous rampage killing 13 people before committing suicide at the centre where he had been taught English.

The gunman at the heart of the tragedy was identified as Jiverly Wong, in his early 40s, reportedly of Vietnamese origin. Early Friday, Wong blocked the back doors of the American Civic Association (ACA) with his car and then burst into the front of the centre in a hail of gunfire.

He took dozens hostage in the four-hour spree and killed 13 people, before turning the gun on himself. Police found two handguns and a satchel of ammunition.

The alarm was raised by the receptionist, who was shot in the stomach and played dead, until she managed to crawl to a hiding spot, local police chief Joseph Zikuski said. She is now being treated in hospital.

Dozens more people spent four hours cowering in the centre’s basement, waiting to be told by police that they were safe to leave. One person injured in the rampage was still in critical condition on Saturday. It was the second mass shooting in less than a week in the US, as the economic downtown claims more jobs and blights more lives.

“We understand that the gentleman had lost employment. That he was no stranger to the American Civic Association. He was probably taking some class there,” the town’s mayor Matthew Ryan told CNN on Saturday.

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