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Female bystander guns down man firing at party in West Virginia

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A US woman has shot a man who opened fire on a crowd of people with a semi-automatic rifle in Charleston, West Virginia.

Dennis Butler, a 37-year-old with an extensive criminal history, was killed after he targeted a group of around 40 people attending a birthday party.

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Police spokesman Tony Hazelett said the woman’s quick reaction saved lives and may have prevented a mass shooting.

It comes amid a national debate over guns after a school shooting in Texas.

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Butler had driven by the area earlier on Wednesday evening when he was warned to slow down because children were playing.

He returned armed with an AR-15-type rifle and opened fire from his vehicle on the birthday-graduation party outside the apartment complex in the city.

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Mr Hazelett told a news conference that the woman who fired back did not have any law enforcement background. She has not been identified.

“She’s just a member of the community who was carrying her weapon lawfully,” he said. “And instead of running from the threat she engaged with the threat and saved several lives.”

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The woman remained at the scene after the shooting, and is co-operating with investigators.

Charges will not be filed against her, police added.

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Butler was found dead at the scene from multiple gunshot wounds, police said.

Mr Hazelett said it is not yet clear how Butler obtained the weapon – which he was not legally allowed to carry as a convicted felon.

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The shooting comes after a teenage gunman killed 21 people at a Texas primary school with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle that had been purchased legally.

The attack, America’s worst school shooting in a decade, reignited the debate over private gun ownership, which is enshrined in the US Constitution.

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