Short Strand in shock at murder: 'I prayed over Kevin, telling him he would be all right'
People in the Short Strand were deeply shocked and devastated as the news of the shooting of Kevin McGuigan spread, wary that terror was once again stalking the backstreets of east Belfast.
Groups of residents lined the narrow roads surrounding Comber Court to talk amid a heavy police presence as the identity of the victim, a former republican prisoner who is understood to have worked as a taxi driver, became known.
A police cordon surrounding the scene of the murder was expanded a number of times as the hours passed, pushing back people arriving on the scene hungry for information.
People had come out on the streets, some in their night attire, to find out just what had happened to their neighbour.
A neighbour who went to his aid said: "I started to pray for Kevin and told him over and over again that he'd be all right. I got my friend to run to get holy water and rosary beads. I said an Act of Contrition, Hail Mary and Our Father and I told him to breathe, and he did.
"He took three shallow breaths and then the ambulance arrived. My friend blessed him with holy water and I put the rosary beads in his hand. He was safe then."
An hour after the killing a car carrying a number of grieving relatives arrived, prompting passersby to round on TV crews capturing the heartbreaking scenes.
Tempers frayed and emotions ran high as cameramen were ordered by one angry resident to turn their lenses away to allow the relatives to grieve in private.
Speculation about the brutal nature of the man's death was being shared quietly by locals, but all refused to share their thoughts with reporters.
Residents were visibly angered by the presence of the media, with many of those asked for their reaction telling reporters to leave the area and ask no more questions.
Several people who appeared at the scene, including a number of heavily pregnant women and young children, were prevented from entering the street adjacent to Comber Court where it is understood they lived.
They begged police to be allowed through the cordon but officers repeated they were unable to let them pass despite their heartfelt appeals.
A police helicopter hovered loudly over the area, just a few hundred yards from the loyalist Newtownards Road.