Journalist (29) shot dead during riots in Derry
The PSNI are treating the shooting as a terrorist incident.
A 29-year-old journalist, named locally as Lyra McKee, was shot dead while covering riots that broke out in Derry on Thursday night.
The PSNI have launched a murder investigation following the tragic death of McKee, which occurred during an episode of orchestrated violence in the Fanad Drive area of Creggan in Derry on Thursday night.
It is believed that McKee was wounded by gunshots fired by a single gunman – whom the PSNI believe to be a violent dissident republican – and subsequently died from her injuries having been administered first aid and been transported to hospital via a Land Rover.
ACC Mark Hamilton said: “Sadly I can confirm that following shots being fired tonight in Creggan, a 29 year old woman has been killed. We are treating this as a terrorist incident and we have launched a murder enquiry.”
— Police Derry City and Strabane (@PSNIDCSDistrict) April 18, 2019
Violence broke out in the Fanad Drive area of Derry on Thursday as the PSNI carried out searches in the area. The PSNI believed that violent dissident republicans were storing firearms and explosives for a number of planned attacks that they believe may have taken place in Derry over the Easter weekend.
Shortly after 9pm on Thursday night, a crowd gathered and upwards of 50 petrol bombs were thrown at police officers, while two vehicles were hijacked and set on fire.
Assistant Chief Constable for District Policing Mark Hamilton said: “Lyra McKee was murdered during orchestrated violence in Creggan last night.
“A single gunman fired shots in a residential area of the city and as a result wounded Ms McKee. Officers quickly administered first aid before transporting her in the back of a landrover to hospital. Tragically she died from her injuries. At this stage we believe her murder was carried out by a violent dissident republican. Our thoughts are very much with the family and friends of Ms McKee, who was a journalist based in Belfast.
“This murder demonstrates all too starkly that when terrorists bring violence and guns into the community, members of the public are placed in severe danger. It is abundantly clear that they do not care who they harm.”
“I want to be clear around why police were in the area last night,” Hamilton added.
“Protecting the public is and will always be our priority. The searches were being carried out because we believed that violent dissident republicans were storing firearms and explosives for a number of planned attacks and these may have been used over the Easter weekend in the city. As we began those searches just after 9pm a crowd gathered and before long upwards of 50 petrol bombs were thrown at officers. Two vehicles were also hijacked and set on fire.
“Coming up to 11pm we estimate there were about 100 people in the area including young people and members of the media. It was around this time that the gunman fired a number of shots.
“I am appealing for anyone who was in the area and could assist in either identifying the gunman or has information about where he went afterwards to contact detectives in the incident room on 101 and ask for extension 57074.
You can also pass on whatever information you have to the Crimestoppers charity on freephone 0800 555 111.
Hamilton also spoke about the distressing impact that footage of Thursday night’s events for the family of Lyra McKee and the wider community and encouraged the public to upload any footage to the Major Incident Public Portal.
“We are aware that footage from last night is circulating on social media,” Hamilton added.
“This is clearly distressing for the family of Ms McKee and the wider community. You can best assist the murder investigation by uploading any footage you have to the Major Incident Public Portal via the following link.
“The shock over what happened here in this city last night is hanging heavy over the entire community today. As we move into the Easter weekend I would appeal for calm and ask everyone with influence in the community to work together to ensure there are no further acts of violence.”