Belfast Telegraph

Conor McKee murder: Police suspect paramilitaries or organised criminals

'Just because Conor was involved in drugs does not mean the police service will walk away from what happened to him'

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

Conor McKee may have been murdered by paramilitaries or organised criminals, police have said.

The 31-year-old father-of-two was blasted a number of times with a shotgun at his Glenpark Street home in Belfast exactly two weeks ago.

His body was discovered in an upstairs bedroom by his mother.

Detective Chief Inspector Justyn Galloway, who is leading the investigation, said: "Our inquiries to date and the intelligence picture at my disposal have combined to make a number of main lines of inquiry in Conor's murder. These include the involvement of paramilitaries and individuals linked to organised crime.

"I have no doubt this assessment will prompt various reactions in the community but it is important to be clear that police remain open to all lines of inquiry and we will go where the evidence takes us.

"Just because Conor was involved in drugs does not mean the police service will walk away from what happened to him, or his mum, his dad, his partner and their children."

So far detectives from the Police Service of Northern Ireland's (PSNI) serious crime branch have interviewed more than 100 witnesses, visited over 250 homes and conducted four searches.

Two people arrested as part of the investigation remain on bail pending further inquiries.

Officers are also expected to revisit the scene to mount road stops and speak to pedestrians.

An electronic display sign will be used as part of the appeal on the Oldpark Road.

Mr Galloway added: "Our inquiries to date indicate that this was a drug-related murder. From previous experience, such an assessment can cause people to regard the killing as in some way acceptable or inevitable.

"This is a mistaken and, I believe, dangerous perspective for people to adopt. Drugs are wrecking lives in our community. The way to deal with the issue is through a co-ordinated, multi-agency approach involving health, education and law enforcement working alongside individuals, families and communities.

"It will not be resolved down the barrel of a gun.

"Previous drug related murders have proved the drugs problem will not be solved through violence."

Mr McKee was last seen in the area of Oldpark Road between 5pm and 6pm on Thursday January 7.

It is thought he was shot at his home at 6.15pm.

Officers want to hear from anyone who may have seen the victim, either on his own or in company.

They are particularly keen to hear from anyone who may have seen a man lurking in an alleyway beside Mr McKee's home around the time of the shooting.

Mr Galloway added: "I am also appealing to anyone who saw a man in the entry beside Conor's home at 5 Glenpark Street around this time. He was wearing a dark-coloured hoodie with a front pocket open at both ends and other dark clothing."

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at Musgrave Street on 101, or information can be passed anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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