A pensioner escaped death by inches after a bullet, fired by a police officer during disturbances in a quiet cul-de-sac, narrowly missed his head as he sat watching television, his family has said.
Gene Hamill’s daughter said her 79-year-old father is lucky to be alive after an officer opened fire during violent disturbances in Portadown on Thursday night.
The shot went through the window of a pensioner's home in Obin Street at about 8.30pm.
Two men, aged 51 and 36, have been charged in connection with the street disturbances.
The men are charged with robbery, false imprisonment and possession of an offensive weapon.
They are due to appear at Lisburn magistrates’ court today.
Eyewitnesses said the trouble started after rival gangs squared up with machetes at nearby Obins Street. Residents at the scene said they believed drugs were at the centre of the clashes.
The police were called and, as some of the culprits fled, officers chased them into Obins Avenue where Mr Hamill lives with his daughter and her husband.
During the disturbances a shot was discharged by an officer and it went through Mr Hamill’s window, missing his head by inches as he sat watching television.
“It could have been a completely different story today. It is difficult to think about what might have happened.
“When I look at how close that hole in the window is to where he was sitting — it upsets me,” Mr Hamill’s daughter told the Belfast Telegraph.
“I was upstairs in the bedroom and I heard a lot of commotion. I ran down the stairs and the bullet had already come through the window. Dad thought it was a stone at first. He is all shook up by it.
“I feel sorry for the officer who fired the shot, I am sure he is upset about it, but I believe there were enough officers at the scene to stop the trouble before it got so bad that a shot had to be fired.
“I thought shots were fired as a very last resort. This is a built-up area, a lot of elderly people live here.”
The incident is currently under investigation by the Police Ombudsman.
One local resident said the trouble began shortly after 8pm on Thursday following a dispute among rival gangs.
“Some of these drug dealers came around looking for their money but the others couldn’t pay so they tried to pull the jewellery off one of the women.
“That’s when it all kicked off. The police are constantly being called to disturbances and it is all to do with drugs,” he said.