Loyalist Geordie Gilmore critically injured in gun attack after taunting paramilitaries with Facebook post
A prominent loyalist was fighting for his life last night after he was gunned down in broad daylight in a Carrickfergus housing estate.
Former UDA 'commander' Geordie Gilmore was shot in the neck at point blank range yesterday in Pinewood Avenue in the Woodburn estate. Local sources suggested the attack was sparked by a single Facebook post on Sunday just before 8pm.
The message on Gilmore's Facebook page read: "The days of the UDA putting people out of Carrick are over."
Late last night the Belfast Trust described Gilmore's condition as critical.
It is understood his family were at his hospital bedside.
The attack follows years of bitter feuding in south east Antrim between competing factions of the UDA.
It has been reported that Gilmore, aged in his 40s, had opposed sections of the UDA engaged in drug trafficking, gaining him support from other UDA veterans who shared his view.
For months Gilmore made critical posts about the south east Antrim UDA online, with the taunting spilling over into physical confrontations.
Last year a mob of up to 100 men, some wearing masks, surrounded his home.
Although this was not the first attempt on his life - shots had previously been fired at his home and there were reports of a UDA death threat against him - he refused to leave the area.
Yesterday afternoon at 2.15pm, on a street where children often play after school, he was shot multiple times.
Early reports suggested he was hit between three and five times, leaving him with what police described as "life-threatening" injuries.
It's believed he was shot while driving his car.
The area remained cordoned off for the afternoon with a massive police presence in the surrounding streets.
Around 4pm a heavily armed PSNI unit began a house search on one property in a street close to the shooting.
Speaking just after 6pm yesterday, Superintendent Darrin Jones said police would stay in the area while investigations continued.
"Police received reports of a shooting incident in the Pinewood Avenue area of Carrickfergus shortly after 2.15pm today," he said.
"A man in his 40s was taken to hospital for treatment to injuries which, at this stage, are being treated as serious.
"While the investigation is still at an early stage police are following significant lines of enquiry and I would appeal to anyone who has information about today's attack to contact us."
With many families and young children living in the area, he said the nature of the attack was especially disturbing.
"Firearms being discharged in a residential area, particularly during daylight hours when children are in the vicinity, is concerning.
"We need the community to give us the information needed so we can remove the dangerous individuals who carried out this attack from our streets and put them before a court of law."
He said the police presence would continue as "we search for those who carried out this brutal attack".
Sammy Wilson (right), the DUP MP for East Antrim, said he believes the violence shows "a serious escalation in an intra-paramilitary dispute".
"As a result fear has been brought back into communities and there is a real danger of people with no association with this long-unning dispute being caught up in the crossfire and the violence," he said.
Mr Wilson added: "It is good that the police were in the area so quickly and hopefully this will help de-escalate the situation."
Independent councillor Jim Brown said he also suspected the shooting was linked to a paramilitary feud. "It's the last thing we need in Carrickfergus, I don't want it to escalate," he said.
"Unfortunately this has been a long time coming, as many who serve the community here will know. We're frustrated by the lack of police activity and response in Carrickfergus. They aren't on the street as much."
Adding his condemnation was Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson. "This is an appalling act, particularly as it was carried out in broad daylight in a residential area," he said.
"Guns have no place on our streets and despicable actions of this nature have absolutely no place in our society."