Belfast Telegraph

Man arrested over attempt to kill PSNI officer released on bail

Widespread condemnation of 'appalling and cowardly' bid to murder off-duty policeman

Detective Chief Inspector Julie Mullan provides an update to media on the investigation into the attempted murder of an off-duty police officer in Kesh during the early hours of Thursday. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
Detective Chief Inspector Julie Mullan provides an update to media on the investigation into the attempted murder of an off-duty police officer in Kesh during the early hours of Thursday. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press

By David Young and Andrew Madden

A 37-year-old man arrested over the murder bid on an off-duty PSNI officer has been released on bail pending further enquiries.

The male officer was confronted on his doorstep in Co Fermanagh in the middle of the night by a masked man aiming a shotgun at him.

A senior detective said she believes "organised criminal elements" may be responsible.

On Friday morning, Detective Chief Inspector Julie Mullan announced that a man had been arrested in the Fermanagh area on suspicion of attempted murder.

DUP leader and local MLA Arlene Foster led the widespread condemnation over the incident.

She said it was an "outrageous attack on a public servant".

The officer was at home in the Rosscah Road and Crevenish Road area of Kesh at around 2am yesterday when he noticed movement outside his property, police said.

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When he opened his front door to investigate, he was confronted by a masked man aiming a shotgun at him.

The suspect, who is described as being dressed entirely in black, then made off on foot across nearby fields close to the local football club.

Detective Chief Inspector Julie Mullan said police believe it was a clear attempt to kill a local police officer.

"There are no words to describe those who would creep through the dark of night with nothing but death and destruction on their minds," she said.

"Their actions stand in stark contrast to those officers, including their intended target, who every day police our communities with dignity, respect and courtesy."

Police Federation chairman Mark Lindsay said there was no room for this kind of "Mafia-style behaviour".

"This was an appalling and cowardly act. The officer was fortunate to escape unhurt," he said.

"I spoke with him earlier today and, understandably, he has been left badly shaken by the shocking experience of being confronted by a gunman on his doorstep.

"There should be no place for this type of Mafia-style behaviour. This is gangsterism at its worst."

Mrs Foster said the attack was a 'brazen attempt' on the life of the policeman.

"It is a reminder of the threat and danger that police officers face on a daily basis as they try to protect our community," she said.

Policing Board member Mervyn Story said: "This is a chilling reminder of the threat faced by our police officers.

"We must stand united with our police service and all those who serve the community."

SDLP leader and Foyle MP Colum Eastwood said the perpetrators wanted to "drag Northern Ireland backwards".

"I can't imagine how this officer must have felt, opening his door in the early hours of the morning to be confronted by a man with a shotgun. My thoughts are with him and his family at what must be a distressing time," he said.

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".

She appealed for anyone with information to contact police.

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