Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

Knife suspect shot dead by police officer

Scene at the Albertbridge Road petrol station in east Belfast

A suspected armed robber has been shot dead by an off duty police officer.

Police sources said the officer shot at a man they said was armed with a knife at a petrol station on Belfast's Albertbridge Road.

The shooting took place after 7pm yesterday evening.

The man shot by the officer was initially said to have been injured but has since died.

It is understood the off-duty officer may have come upon the scene, but the police service said the full details of what happened had yet to be established.

A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman confirmed the man had died following the shooting.

He added: "It's understood he was shot shortly after 7pm by a police officer at a garage on the Albertbridge Road in the city.

"The Police Ombudsman's Office has been informed and its investigators are at the scene."

Sinn Fein Assembly member Alex Maskey, who sits on the Policing Board which monitors the service in Northern Ireland, said he was in contact with police over the shooting.

He added: "This is obviously an issue of the utmost seriousness and one which must be investigated fully by the Police Ombudsman's Office."

The Ombudsman's office investigates complaints against police but is called immediately when officers fire baton rounds or live rounds.

PSNI officers are routinely armed while on duty and have weapons for their protection when off duty.

The scene of last night's shooting in east Belfast was sealed off while investigators established what happened.

The filling station is on a busy route running from east Belfast into the city centre.

The site includes a shop where it is understood the shooting took place.

The Ulster Unionist Party's Michael Copeland said residents were concerned over the incident.

The Alliance Party also said the community would be seeking answers over what happened.

Sinn Fein representative for the area Niall O Donnghaile said: "Regardless of the circumstances surrounding this incident we are dealing with a fatality; our thoughts are with the family of the man who has been shot.

"While there has been an increase in robberies in south and east Belfast over recent weeks it is vital that tonight's incident is investigated fully and that all information comes to light."

The police ombudsman's office said they had a number of witnesses but appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

Assembly member for the area Dawn Purvis called for a full investigation.

She added: "While the details of this incident are not yet clear, the one thing we can be sure of is that there are several families suffering with the ramifications of this shooting.

"I regret deeply the loss of life and my thoughts go to the families at the heart of this incident. "

Robin Newton, Democratic Unionist junior minister in Stormont's power-sharing assembly, said his son was a victim of a previous robbery at the shop where the shooting took place.

"Several years ago my son was working in this same filling station and experienced a violent hold-up situation," he said.

"This was a disturbing and troubling experience for him which took some time to get over.

"However, this much more serious shooting fatality will be an even greater challenge to the mental wellbeing of the employees."

He added: "This distressing incident is unfortunately a worrying trend in the east of the city and is the most serious violent incident of many that have occurred in recent weeks. The employees and the management of the business will need support to get through this."

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