Chair of police union slams 'parasite' who tried to shoot PSNI officer at his home
The chairman of the Police Federation has hit out at the attempted murder of a policeman and said the "parasite" responsible is lucky he was not shot.
Mark Lindsay also said the male officer, who was off-duty at his Co Fermanagh home when he was confronted on his doorstep by a masked man brandishing a shotgun, was more committed than ever to the PSNI.
A 37-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder following the terrifying incident, which happened after the officer went to the front door to investigate movement outside his property. He was released on bail pending further enquiries.
The attacker pointed the gun at the policeman - described by Mr Lindsay as "a hard-working family man who tries to protect the community on a daily basis" - but it failed to fire.
Labelling the attack, which detectives have linked to "organised criminal elements", as "an unwelcome and unwarranted new development", Mr Lindsay said "targeting police officers will not deter them from doing their job".
"This man is a normal person like you or me who has chosen to be a police officer and serve the community and this is unfortunately a price that he's had to pay," he told the Belfast Telegraph.
"He is annoyed about what happened; it has put stress into his life that he didn't need, but he's absolutely determined that it won't deter him from doing his job and helping to protect society against these people.
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"Those people are deluded if they think that threatening or trying to murder our officers will put us off trying to deter them or trying to protect society because that's what we do and that's what we're there for."
The suspect, described as dressed entirely in black, fled on foot across nearby fields after the attack, which occurred in the Rosscah Road and Crevenish Road area of Kesh at around 2am on Thursday.
Mr Lindsay warned those behind the incident that they "aren't going to achieve anything".
He added: "The individual who came to that police officer's house can count himself very fortunate that he wasn't shot himself by the police officer.
"Police officers are there protecting the community from these parasites, these people who prey on society, so I would ask the community to give the police any information that can help them rid society of these people."
When asked if he felt the threat posed to individual officers is growing, the chair of the Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said "it's fairly consistent". "Individual officers are targeted on an almost daily basis," Mr Lindsay added.
"There's a lot of good work goes on by the PSNI to actually deter and thwart a lot of these attacks.
"As police officers, we are very conscious that these attacks are being planned on a regular basis. In this particular case, though, they're maybe looking at a different source."
Detective Chief Inspector Julie Mullan said she "firmly believes this was an attempt to murder a police officer".
"This officer is a local officer, serving a local community and this was a reckless act," she said.
"We're at an early stage and investigations are ongoing into exactly what happened and the circumstances surrounding that."
Stressing that she was "keeping an open mind" over the motivation of the attack, Det Ch Insp Mullan added that she "firmly believes this was organised criminal elements who launched this attack on the police officer".
"Organised criminality and that's all I can say at this stage, I can't rule anything in or out," she said.
"It's had huge impact on the officer, it was a horrific incident for him and his wider family."
She added: "He's being supported by his colleagues and ourselves and his family, but he's traumatised by the incident."
DUP leader and local MLA Arlene Foster led the widespread condemnation, saying it was an "outrageous attack on a public servant".
Mrs Foster said the attack was a "brazen attempt" on the life of the policeman.
SDLP leader and Foyle MP Colum Eastwood said the perpetrators wanted to "drag Northern Ireland backwards".
Local UUP MLA Rosemary Barton said: "This cowardly attempt on the life of this officer under the cover of darkness must be condemned by all right-thinking people and those involved in this dreadful act have no place in our society, a society that we thought had moved on from murder and violence."
DCI Mullan said the police were "keeping an open mind" as to the motivation behind the attack, but said "a primary line of enquiry is that organised criminal elements may be responsible".