Belfast Telegraph

Killers may have lured shooting victim with phone call

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

A man shot dead on a Belfast city centre street may have known his killers, police have said.

Christopher Mackin, a 31-year-old father-of-one, was gunned down minutes after he left his mother’s home in the Donegall Square North area on Thursday night.

Two people, a man and a woman, were arrested in Belfast yesterday and were taken to the PSNI’s serious crime suite in Antrim for questioning.

It is understood Mr Mackin, who had a string of previous convictions and was well-known to police, was shot at least four times.

He was conscious when the emergency services arrived, but died an hour later in the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Mr Mackin was known to both dissident and mainstream republicans in Belfast.

A dissident leadership source told this newspaper he was “a well-known drug dealer” who was “not long out of prison”.

The source claimed he had also “branched into the world of prostitution”.

Mainstream republicans also linked Mackin to crime.

Detective Chief Inspector John McVeagh, who is leading the murder investigation, said he had not ruled out a possible drugs link.

“At the minute, police are not looking at paramilitary involvement in this murder,” he said. “We are, however, keeping open minds as to what the motive is, but I can say that we have arrested a man and a woman in Belfast. They are currently assisting police with their inquiries at Antrim serious crime suite.

There is speculation that Mr Mackin, who lived with his mother in a Helm Housing Association-owned block of flats just off Donegall Square North, may have been lured to his death after receiving a telephone call requesting that he come outside.

DCI McVeagh added: “I have no information in relation to threats against him but we do not believe paramilitary involvement is related to this case. This is an unusual event in this area and I think the motive lies more in close associations with Christopher Mackin.”

He was shot not far from the accommodation block as he walked towards the city centre.

At this stage it is unclear if the gunmen were lying in wait.

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