George Gilmore murder probe: Bullet hit house during 'ruthless attack' in Carrickfergus
Link to the south-east Antrim element of the UDA 'very strong' line of inquiry
Police investigating the 'ruthless murder' of George Gilmore in Carrickfergus have revealed that one of the bullets fired during the attack missed and could have hit someone else.
Detectives launched a murder investigation after Gilmore, 44, was targeted while he sat in a vehicle on Pinewood Avenue in Carrickfergus in Co Antrim on Monday afternoon.
The shooting has been connected to a loyalist feud by local politicians. Police said the involvement of paramilitary criminals was a possibility.
The gunman fled on foot.
On Tuesday Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray revealed that at least one of the bullets missed and went through the front door of the house.
He said a link to the south-east Antrim element of the UDA is a "very strong" line of inquiry.
Det Ch Supt Murray said: "Firstly, our thoughts are with the Gilmore family as they come to terms with their loss. It is a difficult time for them, and I would appeal to those with influence in the wider community to help ensure the area remains calm.
"This was a reckless attack which took place in broad daylight in a residential street populated with families, young children and older people. A number of shots were fired and it is just luck that we are not dealing with further casualties.
"Let me be clear, the gunmen did not care about the local community when they carried out this attack which is evident as one of the bullets missed its intended victim and was found lodged in a house which was occupied at the time.
"We are following definite lines of enquiry but would appeal to the community for information on the following:
"We would like to hear from anyone who noticed any suspicious activity in the area of Blackthorn Park, Pinewood Avenue or The Cherry Walk between 1pm and 2.30pm yesterday.
"Mr Gilmore’s car was a white Vauxhall Insignia – registration YLZ 2220 – did you see this car?
"Those involved had no consideration for local people when they carried out their attack in the heart of this community. Help us remove them from your community and place them before the courts.”
Mid and East Antrim District Commander, Superintendent Darrin Jones, said it is clearly a difficult time for the Gilmore family and appealed for calm.
He said: "I would appeal to those with influence in the wider community in Carrickfergus to assist in ensuring the area remains calm.
"The murder investigation is being taken forward by detectives and will be progressed over the coming days and weeks. At the centre of all of this we have a grieving family and local residents coming to terms with a brutal shooting in the heart of their community.
"Local police, supported by our specialist colleagues, will continue to maintain a presence in the area to provide reassurance to residents and mitigate any tension. We all have a part to play to ensure that the community in Carrickfergus has the time and space to come to terms with what has happened here and to ensure that those responsible for this murder are brought to justice.
"Anyone with information should contact the incident room on 02890 259542, phone police on 101 quoting reference number 605 15/03/17 or alternatively, information can be given to the Crimestoppers charity anonymously by telephoning 0800 555 111."
A dispute between loyalist factions in the town has been ongoing for months.
It is thought the fallout involves two parts of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).
An assessment by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and MI5 last year of paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland concluded that members of organisations like the UDA continue to engage in violent activity and that "violence and intimidation are used to exercise control at a community level".
The shooting followed a serious assault on a doorman at a nearby bar in Carrickfergus on Sunday.
Local police, supported by members of the PSNI's Armed Response Units and colleagues from the Air Support Unit, carried out a number of searches across Carrickfergus and maintained a robust presence in the area throughout Monday night.
Sinn Fein leader at Stormont Michelle O'Neill said there was no place for paramilitarism, criminality or guns on the streets.
"We all have a duty in public life to work towards ending criminality in our society. Sinn Fein are committed to that."
Democratic Unionist leader Arlene Foster said the shooting was disgraceful.
"There is no place for this type of activity in Northern Ireland or indeed anywhere."