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US police won’t tell me why they shot my son, says mother

The distraught mother of a young Irishman shot dead by a policeman in the United States broke down in tears yesterday as she revealed how she had been left "begging for information" on how he met his violent death.

Andrew Hanlon (20), who had travelled to the US a year ago to stay with his sister in Silverton, Oregon, was killed by a police officer responding to a burglary on Monday night. Neighbours reported several shots were fired.

His heartbroken mother, Dorothea Hanlon-Carroll, from Dundrum, Dublin, was yesterday being comforted by three of her children as they tried to come to terms with the tragedy.

But the family last night said they were being kept "totally out of the loop" by US police investigating the shooting.

"I'm terrified of a closed-shop cover-up, that my son will be just swept under the carpet," Dorothea said.

A short statement from the Marion County District Attorney's Office said officer Tony Gonzalez encountered Mr Hanlon when he responded to a burglary call in the town around 11.18pm. He had shot and killed him, the statement said, but did not elaborate any further on the reasons why the officer opened fire on Mr Hanlon.

The County Sheriff's office is now investigating the fatal shooting. The officer involved has been placed on administrative leave -- a standard procedure.

Silverton police chief Rick Lewis said he understands the community's desire to know what happened, but said investigations should not be hurried.

Speaking from her home in Silverton, Mr Hanlon's sister, Melanie Heise, said the multi-task outside agency investigating the shooting could take several weeks. But she said the family, who are anxious for more information, were being kept in the dark about developments. There was no suggestion her brother had any involvement in any crime, she said.

His mother, who had last spoken to him a few months ago, said her son was shot while walking to her daughter's home. He was only a few hundred yards away from his destination when he died.

Ms Hanlon described her artistic son, as a very "sociable young man".

"He did have a heart of gold, he was a softie," she said. She added: "No amount of answers from this police force is going to bring my son back but I need to know why... he can't be brought back, that is the bottom line."

Mr Hanlon was living illegally in the US after his holiday visas had expired. His sister said he had begun to have psychological problems over the past few months.

"He was never actually diagnosed with any psychological problems but he went in and out of delusions and paranoia and stuff like that," she said.

Ms Heise said her brother was "not that kind of kid" who would carry a gun or weapon.

The tight-knit community of Silverton have held a public protest in the town.

"People are appalled because they want to know why there was such excessive forced used," his sister said. She queried why a taser stun gun was not used instead.

Speaking in Silverton, Aerial Burton said her friend, Mr Hanlon, had issues but he had not owned a weapon and had no criminal record.

"I don't understand why," said Ms Burton, who was holding a teddy bear which she said belonged to Mr Hanlon. "People need to know he was a good person with a big heart."

Marie Carthy, a sister of John Carthy, the man shot dead by gardai during a 25-hour siege at his home in Abbeylara, Co Longford, yesterday urged the Hanlon family to keep going until to "get the truth".

Members of the public generously pledged funds to help the Hanlon family after his mother told RTE's 'Liveline' programme that she was unable to fly out to the US or repatriate the body due to the cost involved.

The radio station confirmed people had offered "more than enough" to cover costs. "You've got to go and you've got to find out what happened to your baby," Mrs Hanlon was told.

Mr Hanlon is being mourned by his sister Melanie in the US, and sisters Mary-Kate and Danielle, brother Eamon and step-dad Justin in Ireland. Ms Hanlon said she would never be able to tell people how much it meant to her to be able to bring her son back to Ireland.


From Belfast Telegraph