I thought I'd lost my child, says mother of man shot in legs and left for dead by dissidents
A mother has told how she was sure her son would die after dissident republicans shot him four times and left him for dead in a pool of blood.
Two masked gunmen forced their way into Jonathan Simpson's home at Brandywell Road in Londonderry and blasted him in the legs before dragging him to the hallway.
Neighbours raised the alarm after hearing the shots and contacted his mother Louise, who arrived from a friend's house to find her youngest son bleeding heavily and writhing in agony.
The 23-year-old, who had been threatened by an organisation that accused him of dealing drugs - something his mother denies - is being treated for his injuries in Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital.
Ms Simpson said she feared she had lost her son after she saw how much blood he had lost. "I thought my child was dead when I looked at him," she added. "He was covered in blood - it was everywhere. I said that to my friend, but the ambulance man said: 'No, he is not dead'. He kept jumping about, lying there on the floor.
"They took him to the hospital and straight to resuscitation. Everyone there did everything they could in Altnagelvin and in the ambulance, and I can't thank them enough.
"They threatened him a month ago and said he was selling drugs, but he wasn't selling them at all, that's a lie. He took drugs, and I will admit I gave him the money for them.
"At that time I moved out and went to live with my mother because I could not cope. I could not bear to see my son getting shot in front of me, but they did it anyway. The ones that did it have no conscience. How could anyone do that to anybody? How could they put a mother through what I am going through?"
Chief Inspector Tony Callaghan added: "Even by the brutal standards of previous similar incidents this was a particularly savage attack.
"Early indications are that this man sustained particularly severe wounds with potentially life-changing injuries. This was not a kneecapping. This man sustained gunshot wounds to his femurs, a dangerous part of the body on which to inflict gunshot wounds. There can be little doubt that these injuries could have killed, indeed there have been other incidents in which fatalities have occurred in similar circumstances.
"We believe that at least two gunmen were involved in the incident, which occurred in the living room of a house at Brandywell Road. The suspected gunmen made their getaway on foot."
Sinn Fein councillor Patricia Logue, who lives nearby and was among those who offered support to Ms Simpson at the scene, said the people responsible were inflicting "terror and trauma" on the whole community. "Those responsible for this think they are acting for the community but they are not," she added.
"There are ways and means of dealing with all situations, but these acts of barbarism are not them. No one in this or any other community in Derry wants to see such brutality carried out on anyone."
Anyone with information that may be of help to the police is asked to call the detectives at Strand Road on 101 or, alternately, contact the Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.