Killer on camera: Gunman shown on CCTV as two men are arrested
Two men have been arrested by police investigating the murder of Jim Donegan, shot dead as he sat in his £80,000 sports car outside his son’s west Belfast school.
Last night, the PSNI said it had arrested two men aged 49 and 51 following a number of searches in west Belfast.
They were in custody last night.
It came just hours after police released CCTV footage showing the movements of the killer.
The victim, also known as Jim and JD, was a father-of-two who lived in the Lisburn area with his wife Laura.
The 43-year-old, who also had two stepsons, was shot eight times just before 3.15pm on Tuesday as he waited outside St Mary’s Grammar on the Glen Road.
Chilling video footage shows his callous killer casually emerge from Clonelly Drive as he walked towards his target at around 3.10pm.
He was wearing a hip length high-visibility yellow jacket with “Security” written on it.
The man, also dressed in dark trousers and a grey hat, walked by numerous schoolchildren swinging a draw-string bag over his shoulder. Police believe it was carrying a loaded gun.
Mr Donegan’s red Porsche Panamera can then be seen driving along the same road in the direction of his son’s school.
The distinguished car — bearing its owner’s personalised JDZ34 number plate — never returned back down the road, but the killer did. Just minutes later he can be seen running back towards Clonelly Avenue clutching the black bag before he vanished.
His next steps are a mystery, as no getaway vehicle has been recovered. In the moments between the sightings the hitman had pumped multiple bullets into Mr Donegan’s chest and head as the school bell rang out.
Yesterday, the interim principal of St Mary’s Grammar described how teachers used coats and cardigans to cover the windscreen of the vehicle in a desperate attempt to shield children from the horror.
“Our primary concern at that stage was that they wouldn’t see what we had to see,” Fiona Crookes said.
Not all children were spared the gruesome sight, however, including the victim’s 13-year-old son. Witnesses described seeing him run back into the school immediately after the shots.
“He’d only just left,” one eyewitness said.
“The next thing he ran back up the lane screaming — he was terrified. If he didn’t see the shooting he definitely saw the aftermath.”
A police spokesperson said that Mr Donegan’s teenage son was spared from seeing the “barbaric assassination” being carried out by just a few seconds.
Mrs Crookes said that the young boy became “our priority” immediately afterwards. It is understood he was offered counselling once he was taken inside by staff.
Yesterday, the mother of a seven-year-old boy who witnessed the murder described the impact on her terrified son.
“It was very scary, more so for him. He is still freaking out about if he is still going to be there tomorrow,” she said.
“He has been asking me if they will all be away when he is going to school.”
Detective Chief Inspector Pete Montgomery said he is thankful that he is not investigating “multiple murders, including the murder of children” and praised teachers for their swift response.
“It is utter madness, as any one of these bullets could have ricocheted, and having been at the scene I cannot emphasise enough that it is sheer luck I am not investigating multiple fatalities,” he said.
The lead investigator said many people will be left with devastating emotional scars as a result of what they saw, including children who had been engaged in Christmas activities before seeing a murder in broad daylight.
“Mums, dads, grandparents, young siblings and people in the community also saw the brutal slaying,” he added. “The callous actions of the gunman will have catastrophic psychological effects on them all.”
The senior officer said it is too early to establish any motive for the killing and would not comment on whether Donegan faced a death threat, amid speculation it was linked to a drug feud.
However, the officer did confirm that dissident republic involvement remains one active line of enquiry.
DCI Montgomery said “regardless of whether or not Mr Donegan was known to police” their focus is currently on taking the gunman off the street.