Terrified shoppers and their children fled in horror yesterday as a man was murdered in front of his three-year-old son in a crowded supermarket car park.
The killers fired off half a dozen bullets as they gunned down loyalist Colin Horner just a few yards from the doors of Sainsbury’s Bangor store.
Just yards away, panic erupted in the massive Sainsbury’s store as an alert was sounded on the tannoy and shoppers fled, leaving their trolleys in the aisles.
Brave first aiders from the Balloo Link store rushed to help the fatally wounded victim, keeping him alive until an ambulance crew arrived.
Sainsbury’s employee Robson McCracken told the Belfast Telegraph: “A car drew up and shot a man in the car park, just outside the store. There was panic in the store, with trolleys abandoned everywhere.
“First aiders from Sainsbury’s kept the victim alive until the ambulance team arrived,” he said.
It’s believed the killers were not wearing masks or balaclavas.
The PSNI confirmed that the 35-year-old had died from his injuries. Police believe there may have been more than 100 witnesses to the shooting.
Superintendent Brian Kee said: “Our thoughts are very much with the family of the 35-year-old victim at this extremely difficult time and I condemn this brutal, senseless and horrendous killing.
“This cold-blooded murder was carried out in broad daylight in front of families who were out enjoying this Bank Holiday weekend.
“The recklessness of this murder is all too evident. It is beyond belief that the gunman shot the victim when he was out with his son.
“This young boy witnessed everything and he will undoubtedly carry that memory for the rest of his life. We are very lucky that we are not also dealing with the death of this child today.
“The gunman also showed total disregard for the safety of the public, including other children, who were in the car park at the time of the attack.”
It is understood Mr Horner was a friend of former South East Antrim UDA boss Geordie Gilmore, who was murdered in Carrickfergus in March.
Mr Gilmore’s son, George Jnr, posted a photo of Mr Horner on Facebook with the message: “RIP big mate.”
Last night, the PSNI carried out a series of raids on premises in Carrickfergus in the wake of the murder.
Condemnation of the murder was led by Secretary of State James Brokenshire.
“The community in Bangor and all those involved will understandably be deeply shocked by this horrendous murder,” he said.
“To shoot someone in a busy supermarket car park in sight of children and shoppers shows a brutality and recklessness that will not be tolerated.”
Ards and North Down Mayor Deborah Girvan described the murder as a “callous and despicable act of violence”. “To blatantly walk up to someone and shoot bullets into them in broad daylight, in a busy public area, in front of children, families and people going about their business, is absolutely shocking and cowardly,” she added.
Stormont Green Party MLA Steven Agnew, who represents North Down, said: “It’s very shocking that this took place in broad daylight on a busy shopping day, with children and families present. A large number of people will have been shocked by this incident. Anyone who has witnessed or was nearby, undoubtedly, this will live long in their memory.”
Alliance MLA and former Stormont minister Stephen Farry said it had “sent shockwaves” through Bangor.
“This was a brutal incident, made all the more reckless and shocking by the fact it took place in a busy supermarket car park on a Sunday afternoon,” he said.
“Shoppers going about their regular business could have easily been on the end of this attack.”
North Down DUP MLA Gordon Dunne spoke of his shock at news of the murder.
“I am very alarmed to hear of this gun attack in a busy shopping complex,” he said.
“This is a popular retail complex and it has certainly shocked the local community, particularly as there would have been many in the area at the time, including young children, on a Sunday afternoon.”
Sinn Fein MLA Chris Hazzard also condemned the Bangor shooting. The South Down Westminster election candidate said: “Whoever was behind this shooting wants to drag us back to the past. It will not happen.”
Sainsbury’s said the store would be closed while the PSNI carry out their investigation.