A man who was shot outside his west Belfast home as young children made their way to school,was in a critical condition in hospital last night.
Martin Gavin, a member of the Travelling community, was sitting in the passenger seat of his car outside his house at Rossnareen Avenue at around 9am yesterday when he was shot in the head.
His partner is understood to have been in the driver's seat at the time and immediately sped off in the car in a bid to escape.
She stopped the car a short distance away on Shaw's Road, close to a primary school, where a school patrol man is understood to have contacted the emergency services. Several schoolchildren were making their way to school at the time. Mr Gavin, who is in his 40s, was rushed to hospital while police sealed off the area.
The couple have a number of young children. It is not known if the children were in the house at the time of the shooting or if they had already left for school.
Two men were arrested for questioning a short time after the gun attack.
Residents in the area reported seeing two men in high visibility jackets make off in a car just moments after the shot was heard outside Mr Gavin's house.
One said she heard a loud bang followed by screaming.
"There was a really loud bang. I knew straight away what it was. Then I heard a woman screaming. It was his partner. It was chilling.
"There's no need for guns to be brought out onto the streets. There were lots of children about in the area," said another.
And another added: "I was coming back from the school when I heard a loud bang. The Gavins have never caused any trouble around here. They have four or five kids.
"Those poor children. I just hope they were already at school. Imagine seeing that happening."
Some residents said they were concerned of reprisal attacks.
"These things tend to end up in further violence don't they? I'm just waiting for something else to kick off," said one.
PSNI Detective Inspector Pete Mullan said: "A man in his 40s sustained a gunshot wound to the head in an incident at Rossnareen Avenue shortly before 9am. He was taken from the scene by car, and then transferred to an ambulance at Shaw's Road.
"Police are keen to hear from anyone who was in the area and witnessed the incident."
Children's toys, swings and slides could be seen in the front garden of Mr Gavin's house, which was sealed off by police yesterday.
Shards of shattered glass from the front door windows of the car were strewn across the footpath and driveway. Nearby, police cordons had also been erected around Mr Gavin's abandoned car.
The passenger seat door was lying open and a baby seat could be seen in the rear of the vehicle.
Sinn Fein MLA Rosie McCorley said those responsible "had no regard for the local community given that many people, including children, were heading to and from school and work at the time of the shooting.
"I would appeal to anyone with information to bring it forward to the PSNI immediately," she added.