'Children could have been killed' during disgraceful shooting in west Belfast, says senior PSNI officer
- Murder investigation launched after man shot dead outside school
- Possible dissident republicans are responsible
- Victim was shot several times, including in the head
Children could have been killed during a terrifying incident that saw a man shot dead outside a west Belfast school, the PSNI has said.
The incident took place on the Glen Road outside St Mary's Grammar and CBS schools shortly after 3pm on Tuesday.
Chief Superintendent Jonathan Roberts, speaking from the scene, said: "Police are tonight investigating the disgraceful murder of a man who was shot dead on the Glen Road at around 3.15pm this afternoon. This man is believed to be aged in his 40s and he was sitting in his car when he was approached by a gunman who shot him several times, including at least once in the head.
"This is an absolutely disgraceful and reckless act. There can be no justification whatsoever. The act was carried out in the immediate vicinity of three schools where there was a large number of school pupils at the time.
"It is entirely possible we could have had a seriously injured or dead child or children as a result of this terrible act.
"There is clearly going to be a significant impact on children in this area as a result of this incident. Children come to school and expect to be educated, not to leave school and see an incident of this nature.
"I would imagine the children will be traumatised by this incident, there is no excuse for this whatsoever. It will also have an impact on the teachers in the schools and the wider school community"
The senior officer added the community of west Belfast "does not deserve this" and said officers will not be deterred from policing the area.
CSI Roberts made three appeals during the press conference.
- He asked for anyone who saw the victims Red Porsche car, registration JDZ34, in and around the Glen Road to contact police.
- For anyone who saw a man, who was wearing a high vis jacket with the word "security" written on the back, to contact police.
- Anyone with dash-cam footage, or video footage, of the incident to submit it to the police.
Mr Roberts said it is possible that dissident republicans are responsible for the murder but that it was too early to identify the victim.
Witnesses have said up to six shots were fired during the incident.
St Mary's issued a statement on Tuesday evening saying it will be closed on Wednesday.
"The thoughts and prayers of the Principal and all the staff are with our pupil and his family at this very sad time," the school's statement said.
"Ensuring that all pupils got home safely was our absolute focus following this tragic incident.
"The school will be closed on Wednesday 5th December 2018 due to the on-going investigation. The school will be providing pupils with counselling and support services."
Speaking from the scene, SDLP councillor Tim Attwood said the man was killed instantly.
“It is absolutely sickening that a gun was fired in the vicinity of both a primary and secondary school in west Belfast today," the West Belfast councillor said.
A number of pupils witnessed this fatality and are understandably very disturbed and frightened after this reckless act occurred nearby the school gates. Tim Attwood
He added: “There is absolutely no place for this in 2018; this madness belongs in the past and we cannot allow it to once again become our normality.
“I cannot stress enough that any information relating to this incident must be passed to the PSNI immediately.”
People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll said that he had been told a man in the area was shot multiple times.
"News that somebody has been shot several times on the Glen Road is horrible and deeply concerning and should be condemned by everybody," the West Belfast MLA said.
"It is especially worrying given the amount of children and young people in the area at that time, that somebody sees fit to pull a gun and open fire in the middle of the day. We need to get the guns off our streets".
The Ambulance Service attended the scene after receiving a call at 3.15pm.
Two Paramedic Officers and one Rapid Response Paramedic were dispatched to the incident.
"No one was transported from the scene," an Ambulance Service spokesperson said.
Sinn Fein MP Paul Maskey condemned those behind the fatal shooting.
"This is a disgraceful and horrific attack," he said.
"A man has been shot dead while picking up a child from a local school in the Glen Road area."
It is deeply concerning that this killing was carried out in full view of hundreds of kids who were leaving school at the time. Paul Maskey
“I unreservedly condemn this murder and my thoughts at this time are with the family and friends of the victim.
"Anyone with any information on the killing of this young man should bring it forward to the police.”
UUP MLA Doug Beattie also moved to condemn the gun attack.
"Nobody has the right to bring a gun onto the streets and act as judge, jury and executioner and there can be no justification for this brutal act," he said.
“To murder a man as he waits to collect his son from school and in an area where many children were present, displays a particular callousness and recklessness. These children will have been terrified and traumatised at what they saw and heard at their school gates. It is simply shocking.
“The entire community must get behind the police and give them all the support they need to catch the person responsible and help put this very dangerous individual behind bars for as long as possible.”
Belfast Telegraph Digital