Belfast Telegraph

Carrickfergus gun attack: Tensions high as locals fear escalation of feud

By Allan Preston

As rival loyalist crowds came face-to-face yesterday in the wake of Gilmore's shooting, a shout of "this is war" could be heard coming from one faction.

Angry crowds had gathered in the Woodburn area of Carrickfergus as a heavily-armed police unit carried out a house raid.

Less than two hours earlier the news had emerged that former UDA 'commander' Geordie Gilmore had been shot in the neck in broad daylight on Pinewood Avenue.

Gilmore, aged in his 40s, was last night fighting for his life in hospital as his family kept a vigil.

Earlier, Pinewood Avenue was cordoned off, and by around 4pm armed response officers gathered outside a terraced property two streets away.

A further squad followed carrying riot shields and a battering ram to knock the front door open.

Many residents, including children, followed to watch the spectacle - but few wanted to comment on the shooting.

Asked about earlier events, one man watching the raid made the guarded comment: "If I was you, I would move on - that's my advice."

In contrast, another resident who lives on Pinewood Avenue spoke out about the attack, calling it "an absolute shock for everybody".

"It's a decent wee street and it's usually quiet for everyone," he said.

He added that he agreed with comments from the independent councillor for Carrickfergus Jim Brown, who complained that police did not have a strong enough presence in the area.

"We definitely need more police in Carrickfergus, it's very seldom we would see a police car here," he said.

He said he was upset about the damage reports of paramilitary feuding was having on the town's reputation.

"When you hear things like this it keeps people out of Carrickfergus, it's getting worse instead of better," he added. A mother who lived next door called the shooting a "disgrace".

She said: "I'm not so concerned for myself but my son who is five years of age and running around the street when this happens."

Despite the blood on the streets, the chaotic scenes soon died down and the Woodburn area were quiet yesterday evening.

But with tensions so high, the PSNI was expected to maintain a heavy presence overnight.

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