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Shotgun terror in Belfast city playpark, man and woman arrested

Police praise members of public who disarmed suspect after shot was fired

By Lesley Houston

Published 03/07/2015

Police and forensic officers examine the playpark in the Shankill area of Belfast last night after a shot was fired
Police and forensic officers examine the playpark in the Shankill area of Belfast last night after a shot was fired
Police and forensic officers examine the playpark in the Shankill area of Belfast

A man and a woman have been arrested after a shotgun was fired in a north Belfast park where children were playing.

Police last night paid tribute to the courage of members of the public who disarmed the gunman and held him until officers arrived at the scene.

A number of children had reported seeing a man brandishing the weapon in the Dover Street play park before firing it.

The man then made off accompanied by a female companion while the children fled the area and raised the alarm.

Community workers phoned the PSNI and the man and woman were quickly located and detained by local people in nearby Beverley Street.

It is believed that the shot was fired into the air.

Police later retrieved a weapon.

Last night, PSNI officers could be seen searching under the children's climbing frame and a forensics officer was seen carrying away material.

DUP councillor Brian Kingston said it was a relief no one had been harmed.

"This could have had a tragic outcome," he said.

"I want to commend the local community and PSNI over how they reacted to this.

"The police were contacted and arrived quickly."

A local source suggested that the woman arrested was a foreign national and the man, who appeared to be in his 30s, was from Northern Ireland, although not from the area.

"The man appeared to be under the influence and had been lying asleep in the Belfast City Council-owned park," one source said.

There appeared to have been some kind of altercation between the man and the children.

The man was then said to have reached into a backpack and brought out the shotgun.

Chief Inspector Gavin Kirkpatrick last night said investigations were a very early stage.

However, he paid tribute to the "prompt action" of locals who stepped in to stop the gunman.

"I would like to give credit and thanks to the local people who intervened," he said. "Their prompt action in detaining the suspect, disarming him and alerting police allowed us to make swift and decisive arrests and seize the firearm for examination."

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