Gunman Derrick Bird told the last people to see him alive “You’re all right” before walking into woods at a beauty spot to kill himself, an inquest heard.
Bird, 52, had murdered 12 people and injured 11 others during his rampage through west Cumbria on June 2 last year.
With armed police closing in, he travelled to the Eskdale valley as the final moments of his crime spree came to an end.
Taxi driver Bird had almost run out of petrol, had no shotgun rounds left and the front tyre on one wheel of his Citroën Picasso was blown out and missing.
His car came to a halt at a local beauty spot known as Doctor Bridge over the River Esk, just outside the village of Boot.
Lee Turner, on holiday with his wife Zoe, a chartered accountant, and their two sons aged three and four, spotted Bird’s car and went to help. “I said ‘What’s happened?’ and he replied ‘Hit stone’,” Mr Turner said.
“This was mumbled to the extent that I thought he was a non-English speaking person.”
Mr Turner, an engineer, then spotted a rifle on the passenger seat, which he thought was an airgun.
The witness continued: “I said something like ‘What shall we do or do you need any help?’. He mumbled ‘No, go’.”
His wife told the hearing she saw Bird carrying the rifle with a “blank look” on his face and was “unnerved” by the incident.
“He was only around three to four metres away as he passed. He must have seen the look of shock on my face because he said ‘You’re all right’ but it seemed to lack any kind of emotion and his expression did not change,” she said.
Mr Turner decided to get his family out of the area and last saw Bird, looking “dejected and hunched-shouldered”, walking towards woods carrying the rifle.
Shortly before that encounter, Bird had shot and injured Samantha Chrystie, 30, a teacher from Kent, on holiday with her boyfriend, Craig Ross.
They had stopped their car for Miss Chrystie to take photos when Bird pulled up, leaned over and started to wind down the passenger window. “I actually thought he was lost and wanted directions,” Ms Chrystie told the hearing.
“I then walked up to the car and I heard him say something along the lines of ‘Are you having a nice day?’. The next thing, I felt a really strange sensation and really bad ringing in my head. It was at this point I saw the end of a gun...”
Bird then drove off as his victim collapsed to her knees with blood pouring from her face.
The bullet from Bird’s .22 rifle had smashed three teeth, gone through her mouth and fragmented and lodged in her cheek, leaving her in “incredible pain”, she said.
Mr Ross, who ran to help after seeing her fall to the ground, was warned by Bird: “Just drive away.”
He got back into his car and Bird blasted the back windscreen with the rifle but, after raising the alarm at a local pub, Mr Ross returned to help his girlfriend.
Seconds later Bird drove past Carleton Watts, on holiday with his wife. Hayley Jewell, and their six-year-old son.
Mr Watts, an artist, found Miss Chrystie and directed armed police to where Bird was heading.
A single photo shown to the jury showed Bird, wearing dark blue tracksuit bottoms and a dark blue top and white trainers, lying face down in darkened undergrowth below the canopy of trees in Oak How Wood, near Doctor Bridge.
Police dogs had tracked him to the woods, but Bird had already shot himself through the forehead with the rifle, just over three hours since the first 999 call.
“It was as if something evil had lifted from the area and people went back about their business,” Mr Watts told the inquest.
The hearing continues.