Man shot dead outside Belfast school as he waited for child

Dissident republicans blamed for killing of man as children were leaving the school

Police attending the scene of a shooting close to St Mary’s Grammar School, west Belfast. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA

Police attending the scene of a shooting close to St Mary’s Grammar School, west Belfast. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA

 

Dissident republicans have been blamed for the murder of a man who was shot while waiting for his child to leave school in west Belfast on Tuesday.

The man who was in his 40s was shot close to the entrance of St Mary’s Grammar School on the Glen Road shortly after 3pm while many children were in the area. Five or six shots were fired during the attack.

Police investigating the shooting are trying to trace the movements of a man wearing a high-visibility vest who was seen fleeing the scene. They suspect this man was involved in the killing.

“I appeal to anyone who saw a man in his 40s wearing a high-vis vest with the word ‘Security’ on the back heading in the direction of the Glen Road, as well as anyone who witnessed the shooting or who was in the Glen Road from 3pm, to come forward and speak to police,” PSNI Det Chief Insp Peter Montgomery said.

PSNI Chief Supt Jonathan Roberts said on Tuesday night that dissident republican involvement was one line of police inquiry.

“He was sitting in his car when he was approached by a lone gunman who shot him several times, at least once in the head,” he said.

“This is an absolutely disgraceful and reckless act for which there can be no justification whatsoever. It was carried out in the immediate vicinity of three schools where there were a large number of pupils at the time. It is entirely possible that we could have had a seriously injured or dead child as a result of this terrible act,” he added.

The man who was shot was sitting in his Porsche car waiting for his son close to the school when he was shot, according to eyewitnesses.

“This is a disgraceful and horrific attack. A man has been shot dead while picking up a child from a local school in the Glen Road area,” Sinn Féin MP for West Belfast Paul Maskey said.

“It is deeply concerning that this killing was carried out in full view of hundreds of kids who were leaving school at the time.”

Sickening

Local SDLP councillor Tim Attwood said it was “absolutely sickening” that a gun was fired in the vicinity of both a primary and secondary school.

“A number of pupils witnessed this fatality and are understandably very disturbed and frightened after this reckless act occurred nearby the school gates,” he added. “There is absolutely no place for this in 2018; this madness belongs in the past and we cannot allow it to once again become our normality.”

People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll said the shooting was “horrible and deeply concerning” and must be condemned by everybody.

In a statement, St Mary’s Grammar School said the deceased was killed when he was collecting his son at the school.

“The thoughts and prayers of the principal and all the staff are with our pupil and his family at this very sad time,” it said.

The school will be closed on Wednesday, and pupils will be offered counselling when it reopens. A nearby Christian Brothers school also will be closed.

Ulster Unionist Party justice spokesman Doug Beattie said “nobody has the right to bring a gun on to the streets and act as judge, jury and executioner and there can be no justification for this brutal act”.

Alliance deputy leader Stephen Farry said the murder was “a disgusting and depraved crime”.