A pensioner shot in the chest is a convicted sex offender who raped a young girl and molested another.
William McKillop was hit by shotgun fire after being targeted as he worked in a shed close to his Co Antrim home.
The shooting happened in the Islandboy Road area of Ballycastle shortly before 9pm on Thursday.
Detectives are treating it as attempted murder. McKillop was last night in a stable condition in hospital.
Police sources said one line of investigation is the involvement of loyalist paramilitaries.
The 74-year-old's home was targeted in a gun attack last year.
In 2006, McKillop was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment. He was released on licence last year.
The former Church of Ireland sexton pleaded guilty to two counts of rape and two of indecent assault against one of his victims.
He admitted a further three charges of indecent assault against his second victim.
The offences all took place between 1959 and 1975.
Judge David Smyth QC said the abuse had been "of the worst kind".
The judge added that the abuse – which he described as "systematic" – had been "degrading" and also represented "a breach of trust".
McKillop started to abuse his first victim when she was only a seven-year-old and continued to rape and abuse her until she turned 16.
He molested the other girl from when she was aged about eight until she turned 19.
The offences came to light in February 2003 when the women told a church minister about the abuse they had suffered, and they in turn went to the police.
McKillop was also placed on the police sex offenders' register for the rest of his life.
A PSNI spokesman yesterday said: "Police are treating this incident as attempted murder."
Ulster Unionist MLA Robin Swann said local people were horrified to hear of a gun attack in the area.
"This is a truly shocking incident which one simply doesn't associate with a quiet town like Ballycastle," he said.
"I would appeal for anyone who has any information whatsoever to pass that on to the police immediately."
Chairperson of Moyle District Council, Sinn Fein councillor Cara McShane, said she was shocked at the news.
"It's an isolated area, very remote, on the outskirts of Ballycastle and it's shocking that someone can drive down this remote lane and shoot someone in the chest," she said.
SDLP councillor Donal Cunningham said: "No one has the right or mandate to take the law into their own hands and to act as judge, jury and executioner."