Video: North Belfast man murdered and dumped in lake was shot after he took daughter to school
'IRA' admits Kevin Kearney's murder in statement to newspaper
A man whose body was found in a north Belfast lake on Tuesday was murdered after he left his daughter to school, say police.
Kevin Kearney, 46, had left his daughter at school and returned home to Dunmore Avenue before taking his dogs out for a walk in nearby Alexandra Park.
Detectives believe this is when he was shot - as his dogs returned to the Dunmore area without him.
A republican group calling itself 'the IRA' has admitted responsibility for the murder.
Kevin Kearney was a father of four.
In a statement issued to The Irish News, 'the IRA' said the deceased was shot after the group carried out an investigation "in response to complaints within our community".
Police said the death can only be described as "a cold-blooded and callous murder".
They are linking to the case a burnt out car, which was found in the Alexandra Park area on Tuesday morning. The silver Peugeot 406, registration GNZ 8168, was found burnt out at Donore Court, New Lodge, around 9.30am.
The officer leading the investigation, Detective Chief Inspector Justyn Galloway, said: “On Tuesday morning Mr Kearney followed his usual weekday routine by taking his daughter to school, then returning home and at approximately 9am took his two dogs for a walk in Alexandra Park.
“On Tuesday the dogs returned to the Dunmore area without Mr Kearney. A relative contacted police at 8pm on Tuesday night to say he was missing.
“Local police began to make inquiries and conducted a number of searches in the area which resulted in the discovery of Mr Kearney’s body in a lake at 3.30pm yesterday. He had been shot.
“Kevin was wearing dark clothing with bright blue trainers when he was shot."
Mr Kearney is the second person to be killed by the dissident organisation, following the murder of prison officer David Black in November 2012.
The latest IRA grouping emerged last year as a pull-together of several factions. These include the Real IRA, Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD) and a number of “unaffiliated” dissident figures.
It is understood Mr Kearney's partner raised the alarm when he did not return home.
Justice Minister David Ford has said that nothing can justify the murder of another human being.
"I want to offer my deepest sympathies to the family of the man who has been brutally murdered in Belfast," he said.
"There can be no justification whatsoever for taking a life and no excuse those carrying out this murder can offer will fill the void in his family.
"No paramilitary group has the right to judge our citizens and carry out their perverse view of justice."
MP for the North Belfast, Nigel Dodds described the murder as appalling.
"The body was found in suspicious circumstances and the police have launched a murder investigation," he said. "The entire community will share in the sense of shock at this appalling news. I understand that the identity of the deceased is known to the police.
"Our thoughts are with the family of the deceased. I appeal for anyone who can assist the police investigation to pass on whatever information they have."
Alexandra Park is divided by a three-metre tall peace wall which was erected in 1994 to prevent sectarian fighting between nationalists in the Antrim Road and loyalists on the Shore Road. In September 2011 a gate linking the two communities was opened for the first time.
The lake is located at the upper end of the park close to the Antrim Road.
SDLP councillor Pat Convery who chairs the north Belfast community safety partnership has urged anyone with information to come forward.
He said: "This is a very tragic event. My thoughts and prayers are with the man's family. I would appeal for anyone who has any information that could help further the investigation to notify the police."
Democratic Unionist councillor Guy Spence said the community was stunned by the grim discovery.
"Something like this comes as a great shock. I am sure the local community will join with me in sharing our thoughts and prayers with the family of the individual involved.
"It is a surprise that in such a public place something as horrid as this could be discovered.
"I would appeal to anyone with information to bring it to the police or speak anonymously to Crimestoppers.
This includes anyone who saw Mr Kearney in Alexandra Park between 8.30am and 9.15am with his dogs, or saw the silver Peugeot in the area.
Witnesses can call the Incident Room at Musgrave Street police station on 0845 600 8000, or speak to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.