Northern Ireland news

Hunt for ‘dangerous gunman' after fatal shooting in Belfast

 The scene at Etna Drive in the Ardoyne area of Belfast, where a man has died following a shooting. A burnt-out car was reportedly found nearby.
Rebecca Black, PA

Police are hunting a “dangerous gunman” behind the fatal shooting of a man in Belfast.

The victim was shot a number of times at close range at a house on Etna Drive in the Ardoyne area on Saturday and pronounced dead at the scene.

A burned-out car was found nearby.

Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy said a murder inquiry has been launched into the “brutal killing”.

“I am astounded by the recklessness of the killer or killers,” he said.

“Not only did they carry out this callous murder, leaving a family experiencing their worst nightmare, but they did not care that children and other members of this north Belfast community were placed at risk.

 A man has died after a shooting in north Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann

“Murder is a heinous crime and killing someone during this global coronavirus pandemic is sickening when people are trying to adjust to living a new way and trying to cope with the pressures this brings.

“Those involved in this murder selfishly gave no thought to the impact on frontline emergency services who are already working hard to keep people safe with an already stretched resource.”

Det Supt Murphy said it was too early to speculate on the motive and he was following “a number of lines of inquiry”.

“A light-coloured car, registration YLZ 7052, was found burned out in nearby Kingston Court and I am currently seeking to establish what relevance this car has to my investigation,” he said.

“I know the community is in shock at the moment but I would appeal to anyone who has information about this appalling murder to bring that information forward to the police so that we can remove this dangerous gunman and his associates from the streets.

“I am aware the area was busy with pedestrians and people out in their front gardens so I am asking anyone who may have captured any footage of the incident to please make that available to us also. I have activated the Major Incident Public Portal which can be accessed at mipp.police.uk.

“The investigation team can be contacted by calling 101, quoting reference 562 04/04/20.”

 Police at scene of a shooting in north Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said the killing was “an abhorrent and brutal crime, for which there is no excuse”.

Justice minister Naomi Long also condemned the “senseless murder” and offered her sympathies to the man’s family.

There was a heavy police presence in the area on Saturday afternoon with lines of Land Rovers sealing off both ends of the street.

Mr Lewis added: “This type of justice is never, and will never, be a substitute for policing and the force of law.

“This cowardly act is particularly thoughtless at a time when our frontline emergency services are already working incredibly hard to keep us all safe while dealing with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I strongly encourage anyone who has information about this despicable crime to come forward and speak to the PSNI.”

 Police at scene of a shooting in north Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann

Ms Long said the incident placed additional pressures on the health service already battling with the coronavirus pandemic.

“Those responsible for this appalling crime have left a family grieving and a community in shock,” she said.

“There is no place for the gun in our society and it is time to stop these attacks.

“This appalling crime places additional pressures on our first responders, at a time when they are already dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic and all of the challenges that brings with it.

“I would urge anyone with information to pass it to the police on the 101 number or to the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.”

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly condemned the shooting and called for calm.

“I would appeal for calm at this time in the area and stress that anybody with any information about this horrific incident should bring it immediately to the PSNI,” he said.

“Actions like this have no place in our society and I repeat my condemnation of those involved.

“At a time when all frontline statutory agencies and indeed communities are doing what they can to fight against Covid-19, this just adds to the suffering unfortunately being experienced by local people at this time.”

SDLP councillor Paul McCusker said the incident has caused shock in the area.

He said: “A man was shot in a garden in this community in broad daylight.

“It’s hard to describe how traumatic this has been for people who were going about their business.

“My thoughts are with this man’s family at an incredibly difficult time.”

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