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Gun death at clay pigeon shoot in Downpatrick was tragic accident

By Allan Preston

Published 25/07/2016

A clay pigeon club (for illustration purposes, not connected with the tragic accident in Co Down)
A clay pigeon club (for illustration purposes, not connected with the tragic accident in Co Down)
Emergency services at the scene of shooting

A Co Down man has been killed in a "freak accident" at a clay pigeon shooting event.

A police investigation has been launched following the death of the man in his 60s from Downpatrick.

There have now been calls for a safety review to be carried out into gun club shooting events to prevent a similar tragedy in the future.

It's understood the incident happened yesterday afternoon during a shoot in scenic Lough Money Forest.

The man is believed to have been a member of a local club.

One source close to the club said the whole community had been stunned by the horrific accident.

He told the Belfast Telegraph: "We have been told that he accidentally discharged his own gun and shot himself. It was a freak accident."

South Down SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie said her thoughts were with the family.

"I am deeply saddened to learn of the tragic death in Downpatrick this afternoon of a man at the scene of a clay pigeon shoot," she said. "Undoubtedly, the family and friends of this man are experiencing unspeakable grief and my deepest sympathies are with them at this time.

"The local community in Downpatrick and further afield will stand shoulder to shoulder with the family of the bereaved and friends on this tragic occasion."

Party colleague Colin McGrath MLA added: "This appears to have been a tragic accident and my thoughts and prayers are with the man's family at this time.

"I will be contacting the PSNI and council to ensure that a full and robust safety investigation is conducted to see if any lessons can be drawn from this terrible event to ensure that such an accident doesn't occur again in the future and to maximise safety at such events."

Sinn Fein councillor for Downpatrick Naomi Bailie said: "It's a shock, because there aren't many clay pigeon clubs associated with Downpatrick town.

"It's shocking news and very sad for the family, so I'd offer them my condolences.

"I suppose when incidents like this happen that are so tragic the community in Downpatrick and the wider area will put the shoulder to the wheel and help the family in whatever way they can, but my thoughts, prayers and sympathies will be with them at this time."

Clifford Barr, chairman of the Ulster Clay Pigeon Shooting Association, told the Belfast Telegraph: "Our sympathies would be with all those involved. At this stage we know absolutely nothing as to the circumstances of it.

"It just seems to have been a dreadful accident."

The PSNI said a man aged in his 60s died after a firearm was discharged.

Detective Inspector Will Tate said: "We will be conducting a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding this death, but initial enquiries would indicate this to be a tragic accident

"The family would ask for privacy at this very tragic time."

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