Northern Ireland news

Raymond Johnston murder: Man wearing blue coat seen leaving the scene in a black car

 Victim Raymond Johnston

POLICE are appealing for witnesses who saw a man wearing a blue coat with a fur lined hood leaving the scene of the murder of 28-year-old man Raymond Johnston in west Belfast.

Mr Johnston was gunned down with a shotgun at his home on Glenbawn Avenue in Poleglass shortly before 8pm yesterday.

Detective Chief Inspector Geoff Boyce said the victim had been shot in front of his partner and an 11-year-old child in a "chilling" attack.

“I would ask for anyone who has any information about this murder to contact police. I am particularly keen to hear from anyone who may have witnessed a male wearing a blue coat with fur around the hood make off from the scene getting into a black car with tinted windows which drove away from the scene."

DCI Boyce said police are exploring a number of lines of inquiry and said he could not "expand further upon that" at such an early stage of the investigation.

“Local police will continue to maintain a presence in the area to provide reassurance to residents," he said. 

"We all have a part to play to ensure that the community in Poleglass has the time to come to terms with what has happened here and to ensure that those responsible for this murder are brought to justice."

It is understood at least one gunman targeted Mr Johnston at the home he shared with his partner.

Mr Johnston is originally from Crumlin, Co Antrim. It is thought he was cooking pancakes for the children shortly before the attack and was shot in the chest when he went to answer the door.

A man in his late twenties has been killed in a house on Glenbawn Avenue in Poleglass, west Belfast. Picture by Chris Scott, AMMG Media

The killing comes just over a year after Joe Reilly (43) was shot dead in nearby Glenwood Court.

The republican group known as Action Against Drugs later claimed it was responsible for his murder in October 2016.

Sinn Féin councillor Stephen Magennis, who knows Mr Johnston's partner, said a motive for the killing was unclear.

He said people in the area were "very angry that this has happened".

"We had a fatal shooting in Glenwood up the road just over a year ago," he said.

"The community is asking why is this happening in our area again."

Mr Magennis said Mr Johnston's friends and family were "obviously devastated and in a state of shock".

"There can be absolutely no justification for this murder which was carried out in the most brutal fashion.

"The people carrying out these attacks are bringing nothing but death and destruction. They need to be condemned and should get off the backs of this community.

"I would utterly condemn this. My thoughts are with the family."

SDLP councillor Brian Heading also said people living in the area were "in shock".

"These are scenes that we thought we had left far behind us," he said.

"Those responsible for this monstrous criminal act must be caught and they must be brought to justice. There is no room in this city or in this society for those intent on murder and mayhem and who will commit the most heinous crimes.

"I'm calling on anyone with information to please come forward to police. These thugs cannot be allowed to bully this strong community into silence. They cannot dominate us, we cannot let them."

DCI Boyce appealed for anyone with information to contact detectives on the non-emergency number 101 quoting reference 1192 of 13/02/18 or ask to speak to detectives at the incident room at Musgrave Street PSNI station. Information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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