The Children's Commissioner has expressed her concern after a terrified eight-year-old boy witnessed two armed and masked men force their way into a house where they shot a man up to six times.
As children played on the streets, gunmen emerged from a laneway opposite the house in the Creggan Road area of Rosemount in Londonderry.
Seeing the men with their faces covered, the little boy innocently asked them if they were robbers — only to be threatened.
The boy's mother said that her son was left badly traumatised.
She said: “My wee boy asked, ‘Are you robbers?' and they said, ‘Aye we are — now get the hell out of here or we will kill you'.”
“This is the first time he saw anything like this in his life and he was terrified.
“He stuck beside me all evening with his arm in mine and was very quiet. He just went into himself.”
Northern Ireland’s Children’s Commissioner Patricia Lewsley-Mooney, who was in Derry yesterday, said: “Although I do not know the exact circumstances behind this incident, for me as Commissioner for Children and Young people the safety and protection of children is always paramount, so reports of situations like this when young people may have been put at risk are very concerning.”
The 22-year-old shooting victim is recovering in Altnagelvin after he was shot up to six times on Sunday evening.
The man was in his rented property when two men wearing balaclavas forced him to the ground and fired three bullets into each ankle.
This attack comes less than a week after a 61-year-old man was shot several times in the legs at his home in Ballyarnett.
Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey described Sunday’s attack as “a despicable act that has left the community of the Creggan Hill area in fear”.
He said: “There is absolutely no place for guns, punishment shootings or kangaroo courts in our
society. I totally condemn this brutal attack.”
Derry District Policing Partnership member, councillor Maeve McLaughlin, said: “This is a very worrying incident and is the second time in just a few days that guns have been used in our city. People do not want these actions taking place on their streets and those behind them need to stop.”
In the past six months, Rosemount Resource Centre has dealt with 60 cases where people had been under threat of either expulsion or violence with 50 of the cases being successfully resolved.
Tommy McCourt, from the centre, said efforts to establish why this young man was targeted were continuing.
“We would normally be aware of over 95% of the cases where people are under threat but I did not know this young man at all and I am still trying to find out why he was targeted,” he said.
“It certainly seems to have been a very serious incident if he was shot three times in each ankle.”
Detectives are appealing for anyone who witnessed the incident, or is able to provide any information to contact them at Strand Road CID on 0845 600 8000.
Alternatively, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them on 0800 555 111.