Police seek help to identify suspect in Lyra McKee murder
Three men – one said to have been carrying a crate of petrol bombs – were seen walking across Central Drive a minute before the killing.
Police investigating the murder of journalist Lyra McKee in Londonderry have called for the public’s assistance in identifying a short, stocky teenager they believe is responsible for her death.
Releasing footage of the suspects, PSNI Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy said that people in the area at the time of the murder saw this young man and his associates.
“I think people in the community know who they are and I’m asking them today to come forward to help us,” Mr Murphy said.
“I’m releasing footage today from the night of Lyra’s murder and I want to appeal to anyone who recognises or knows these people to talk to us.”
Three men – one said to have been carrying a crate of petrol bombs – were seen walking across Central Drive in the Creggan area a minute before the killing.
Speaking about the main suspect, Mr Murphy said: “He is shorter than both of the other men and is of stocky build.
“It is of my belief that he is the gunman that fired indiscriminately into the crowd and placed the community and police officers at risk.
“I believe he is the person who took the life of Lyra McKee.
“I believe this man (suspect) is in his late teens. I believe the crowd on the night that was involved in disorder was largely in their late teens and early 20s.”
The footage shows a man walking with the main suspect wearing dark skinny jeans, blue Nike trainers with a white tick and a white sole. He is wearing a camouflage scarf or other covering across his face.
In separate footage he can be seen holding a petrol bomb.
Mr Murphy said the PSNI has received widespread support from people in Derry, adding that they have the information to unlock details of who is responsible for Ms McKee’s death.
He made a direct appeal to the gunman asking him to come forward and explain why he fired the shots and explain to Ms McKee’s family why she died.
The suspect appears to be carrying the gun in his right hand in one of the images.
Mr Murphy called on the community to overcome any fears and come forward to identify the main suspect.
“I believe that people in the community know who this individual is. I recognise that people living in Creggan may feel it is difficult to come forward to speak to police,” he said.
“Today I want to provide a personal reassurance that we are able to deal with those issues sensitively.
“At Lyra’s funeral on Wednesday we heard many messages of the potential for a better future, but as I’ve said previously such sentiment will be all in vain if we can’t tackle the malign influences that some individuals continue to exert over our communities.”
More than 140 people have provided images, footage and other information to police, he said.
At Lyra's funeral on Wednesday we heard many messages of the potential for a better future, but as I've said previously such sentiment will be all in vain if we can't tackle the malign influences that some individuals continue to exert over our communities Jason Murphy, PSNI
“Such information simply gets me through the door but it doesn’t get me to the door of a courtroom. I need people to contact my team to talk to us about what they know,” he added.
“Whilst the community information has been coming into us I have been keen to convert this information and intelligence into tangible evidence to allow us to bring this individual to justice.
“I need the public to tell me who he is.
“I do believe the community has information that can help us unlock the key to Lyra McKee’s murder. I’m not sure individuals are protecting this person, but I believe they are frightened.”
It has also emerged that forensic tests on the bullets fired suggest that a gun of a similar calibre has been used in previous paramilitary-style assaults in Creggan.
“It’s symptomatic of the fact that weapons of this type are in circulation in Creggan and other areas of Northern Ireland and continue to bring misery every single day to these communities,” Mr Murphy added.
He added that the gunman will carry a “very heavy conscience” over Ms McKee’s murder.