Belfast Telegraph

Shooting victim's wounds 'horrific'

A good samaritan who rushed to the aid of a paramilitary shooting victim has said he will be forever haunted by the blood-soaked scene.

Masked gunmen blasted their victim, believed to be in his 40s, in both thighs and a wrist during the brutal attack in west Belfast.

The shooting, which has been blamed on dissident republican vigilantes, happened at a house in the predominantly nationalist Hawthorn Street at about 9pm last night.

Colin Keenan, a Belfast city councillor who lives nearby, arrived within minutes.

He said: "It was the most horrific scene I have ever seen in my life.

"It was like something straight out of a horror film.

"No-one should ever have to see that.

"I will never forget it."

Mr Keenan, who is nicknamed "The Doc" because he studied biomedical science at university, claimed to have heard a number of loud bangs but did not realise they were gunshots until he was summoned to administer first aid.

"It looked like an artery had been nicked," he added.

"His clothing was totally soaked with blood and it was hard to ascertain how many times he had actually been shot.

"Some people said they heard five shots and I certainly thought I'd heard more than three.

"There was so much blood on his chest we could not tell whether there were more wounds on his chest or abdomen.

"We were frantically searching and feeling around with our bare hands."

It is understood the victim had been dragged into the bathroom of the terraced property and shot.

He managed to crawl out onto the small hall landing before he collapsed.

Mr Keenan described how he used his belt as a tourniquet in a bid to suppress the heavy bleeding.

He said: "He had one wound on each inner thigh and one on his left wrist.

"The right thigh was losing the most blood so I took my belt off and put it above the wound.

"We then elevated everything else - the arms and legs - until the ambulance arrived about 20 minutes later."

The man, whose identity has not been released, was in a stable condition in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

Paramilitaries have been meting out their own form of vigilante justice since the start of the Troubles.

The so-called punishment attacks are usually carried out by loyalist or republican groups on members of their own community.

They usually take the form of shots to knee-caps or thighs but may also be severe beatings, sometimes with hammers or baseball bats.

In some instances, the attacks have been carried out by appointment.

According to figures from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), 28 people were hospitalised during 2013/14 as a result of paramilitary gun attacks.

A further 42 were injured as a result of assaults.

Republicans were responsible for 19 of the shootings - 12 of which were carried out in west Belfast.

Last October, Edward Gibson, 28, died after being shot in the legs and stomach in a so-called punishment attack in the Divis area of west Belfast.

Mr Keenan has condemned those responsible as "barbaric".

He said: "I am confident that these attacks have no place in our society.

"If people want justice they have to obey the rule of law to have justice.

"While the gunmen inflict a physical injury on their victim there are also psychological injuries for those people who have to clean up the mess.

"It is just morally wrong."

Meanwhile, PSNI I nspector David McBride has appealed for information about the incident at Hawthorn Street.

He said: "It was reported to police at around 9.15pm that a number of masked men entered a house and shot a male occupant a number of times in the legs and arm.

"The man was taken to hospital for treatment to his wounds which are not believed to be life-threatening.

"I would appeal to anyone who witnessed this incident to contact police on the non-emergency number 101."

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