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Community rallies round shotgun attack family, but anger and fear still remain

By Rebecca Black

Published 12/08/2015

Mary McQuillan is comforted by her daughter Mary after a shot was fired through the window of their Belfast home

Just minutes after the downstairs of Mary McQuillan's tiny west Belfast terrace was devastated by a gunshot, her neighbours were out in force, making sure she and her daughter were safe.

Mary and her daughter, also Mary, have been on their own for the past three years since their husband and father Martin died following a battle with cancer.

That they were targeted by a gunman has not just shocked them, but also the whole tight-knit local area.

"It's a shock to us, but it's an even bigger shock to the whole community," Ms McQuillan said.

"They just can't believe it, absolutely flabbergasted."

Their house was attacked at 1.40am on Tuesday, yet despite the late hour, their neighbours all came out to make sure everyone was okay and check what had happened.

Within half-an-hour of the shooting, the mother and daughter were being comforted by their neighbours who had alerted the rest of their family, their friends, made them cups of tea and offered a place to sleep.

Mary snr stayed with her sister for a few hours' sleep, and when she awoke went to the doctor because of the shock.

When she arrived home her neighbours cleaned up her living room and front yard.

Yesterday afternoon when the Belfast Telegraph visited, the neighbours were still helping, the front window already replaced, with the old one propped up in the yard and the huge hole left by the shot obvious.

To not help their neighbours never crossed the minds of those who pitched in. Mary and her daughter paid tribute to them.

"Our neighbours opened their homes to us, it's a real nice, tight community," she said.

"People are there for each other, they even came in and cleaned it all up."

While the kindness has acted as a buffer from what happened really sinking in, the pair admitted that they were worried about when it would just be the two of them again.

"I would love to cry but I can't," Mary snr said.

Mary jnr added that the support from their neighbours had been overwhelming, but they were dreading the night.

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