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Residents in shock after shots fired at empty house in Ballymena estate

By Nevin Farrell

Published 06/04/2015

Police at the scene of the shooting at Fort View outside Ballymena
Police at the scene of the shooting at Fort View outside Ballymena
The bullets marked on the window

Residents of a tiny rural estate have told of their shock after a house was peppered with gunshots in the early hours of Sunday.

Householders said they were baffled as to why the house near Ballymena would have been targeted by a gun gang.

Police said the house in the Cromkill area was unoccupied when it came under attack.

A number of shots were aimed at a downstairs window with around 10 bullet holes visible.

The house is believed to be the home of two young brothers, named locally as McBurney.

Police sealed the immediate area around the Fort View housing development of just eight homes, three miles south of Ballymena town centre. They blamed "criminal elements" and are stepping up patrols. Forensic experts were at the scene on Sunday.

Fort View resident Marie McKeown (77) said: "I heard the bangs and at first I didn't realise what it was. It woke me up. This is a very quiet area. I would be a light sleeper and I heard bang, bang, bang.

"It is a terrible sensation. As far as I know they were living there but I don't know them now or what it was about. I was shocked when I heard this happening. I hope it quietens down."

Retired resident Matthew McComb said he was stunned at the shooting close to his home.

"I didn't hear the shooting but my God that is bad, God almighty. I am glad no one was hurt. I'm shocked, to tell you the truth.

"When I saw the police I wondered what was wrong and if there was somebody hurt. I am glad nobody was hurt, that would be the last thing I would want."

Another neighbour said the house belonged to the two McBurney brothers, who were left the property when their mother died just over a year ago.

He said he believed the family had links with the Moorfields/Glenwherry area around 10 miles away between Ballymena and Larne, adding: "There seemed to be quite a few round at the house in Fort View with cars, they must have a lot of buddies."

Detectives in Ballymena are appealing for witnesses and said around 2.20am it was reported that a number of shots had been fired at the windows of an unoccupied house in the area.

A red Honda Accord car, believed to have been involved in the incident, was found burnt out on the Lisnevenagh Road - about a mile away - a short time later.

PSNI Chief Inspector Natalie Wilson said: "We are determined to tackle these criminal elements and as such we are committing additional resources over the next few nights. We will not accept this type of behaviour and I would ask for community support and information as we work to identify those responsible."

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