A senior police officer in the North has appealed for calm after the murder in north Belfast of prominent Ulster Defence Association figure John Boreland.
Amid concerns the killing could trigger a bloody loyalist feud, PSNI Supt Paula Hillman said "no one should take the law into their own hands" after the shooting on Sunday night.
Senior investigating officer, Det Chief Insp Justin Galloway, said Mr Boreland was on an internal loyalist death list and police had warned him about the danger to his life.
“John was aware that he was subject to a threat, and was aware that it was a real threat. He took some measures to counter that,” he said.
Det Chief Insp Galloway said the main line of inquiry was that Mr Boreland (46) was murdered as a result of "loyalist tensions". He said Mr Boreland had just got out of his car near his flat at Sunningdale Gardens, off Ballysillan Road, at about 9.50pm on Sunday when he was shot.
The officer said that Mr Boreland was engaged to be married and was the father of two boys and a girl. He said the entire family was “devastated”.
Second time shot
Mr Boreland was the victim of another internal UDA shooting two years ago. He was also connected to the former north Belfast loyalists
and the late
who were expelled from the UDA and he had served a period in prison with Andre on extortion charges.
Det Chief Insp Galloway said it was too early to be definitive about a motive but he could say it was not a sectarian murder. “We are clearly looking at tensions within loyalism.”
Police sources indicated the chief suspects are members of one of the different UDA factions in north Belfast.
Supt Hillman said there would be additional police patrols in north Belfast following the shooting.
The murder prompted concerns about another loyalist feud, similar to those that resulted in numerous deaths during and after the Troubles.
"I appeal for calm," she said. "It is our role, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, to preserve law and order within the community. No one should take the law into their own hands."
‘Shocked and disgusted’
DUP First Minister
said she was “shocked and disgusted” by the murder, while the Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness urged “everyone to work with the police” as they investigated the killing.
A DUP delegation led by deputy leader and North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds and MLA Nelson McCausland met PSNI officers to discuss the murder.
Mr Dodds said the killing had "sent shockwaves throughout north Belfast and cast a dark shadow over the local area".
Ulster Unionist Policing Board member Ross Hussey said: "Murder is murder and cannot be justified. It must be condemned. I would urge anyone with information to contact the police so that those responsible can be brought to justice."
Local SDLP MLA Nichola Mallon said the killing shocked the community. "There are real concerns in the community that this could lead to further acts of violence. I am calling for calm to allow the police to carry out a full investigation, and bring those responsible to justice," he said.
Alliance deputy leader Naomi Long said "there can never be any excuse for people bringing guns onto the streets".