Belfast parents shot defending son - police tell criminals to let community get on with their lives
'Nobody has the right to act as judge, jury and executioner'
A senior police officer has told criminals carrying out paramilitary-style attacks in west Belfast to let the community get on with their lives.
Chief Inspector Norman Haslett was speaking at a press conference on Friday afternoon following the shooting of a husband and wife.
The couple, who are in their 50s, are in a stable condition in hospital after they were shot in the legs by gunmen when they refused to hand over their son in Belfast.
It is understood republican paramilitaries in the west of the city ordered the attack on the boy.
Gunmen arrived at a house in the Turf Lodge area of the city on Thursday evening to carry out the attack but the child's parents fought them off.
Chief Inspector Haslett branded those responsible as "criminals", telling them to get off the streets and let people live in peace.
"Nobody has the right to act as judge, jury and executioner," he added.
Mr Haslett refused to confirm if they suspected paramilitary involvement in last night's attack, simply describing those responsible as criminals.
Mr Hasletts added: "Thankfully their injuries are not life-threatening, but the ordeal and the trauma that the couple went through must have been quite horrific. This is a brutal, callous and horrific attack on a defenceless couple in their house, at tea-time on a Thursday evening and I condemn it in the strongest possible terms. The people who did this have no moral compass whatsoever."
Earlier a police source said: "The parents wouldn't give the son over so they were shot instead. There are a number of other lads in Belfast under similar threat at the minute."
But Chief Inspector Haslett refused to comment on this.
He said police were examining several lines of inquiry.
"There is only one police force in West Belfast - and that's the PSNI," Mr Haslett added.