Paratrooper took aim and shot at me, says witness

 

A witness yesterday described as "surreal" the hushed scene in the Bogside as people hid in terror from the advancing paratroopers after the first wave of shootings.

Mr Noel Kelly, who was an 18-year-old apprentice at the time, said that while taking cover behind a tin hut he saw bullets hitting the ground and sparks coming off the concrete. He thought the shots were coming from the City Walls.

As firing eased he saw two bodies in a small side street behind Glenfada Park. "The bodies were lying on their backs perfectly parallel to each other . . . I remember thinking that they looked like they were sunbathing," he said.

As there were no soldiers there and no shooting he went towards the bodies. He was on his own in the open as he did so.

One man, who seemed to be dead, was not known to him but he recognised him from photographs later as Gerard McKinney. He knew the other man, William McKinney, who was still alive.

The witness said he did not sense any immediate danger. However, as he stood over the bodies he heard a shout from an alleyway leading from Glenfada Park - "Help me, I'm shot, help me, I'm shot" - and he saw a man he knew as Joseph Mahon crawling towards him.

Beyond this man lay another man he recognised as Jim Wray, inside Glenfada Park. As the witness moved into the alleyway he saw a paratrooper at the other side of the park, leaning against a lamp-post and looking away towards Free Derry Corner.

The "para" glanced in his direction, Mr Kelly said: "He seemed to pause for a split second . . . then he swung his body and his rifle round to face me and went into a crouched position.

"I thought, `Jesus, this guy's going to shoot me' and I shouted, `Don't shoot', and held a hanky above my head with both hands. The soldier took aim and shot at me." Mr Kelly said he himself was going backwards at this time, keeping his eye on the rifle, but he slipped and fell over.

"There was complete silence at this time, except that Joseph Mahon was still screaming . . . As I fell, a girl wearing a Knights of Malta coat, whose name I knew to be Lafferty, jumped out from behind the garden wall and ran between me and the soldier. She shouted: `Red Cross, Red Cross - don't shoot'.

"At this point, I can remember hearing a sound like a referee's whistle. It was a very distinctive sound. The soldier turned and ran towards Rossville Street."

The witness said that since Bloody Sunday journalists had shown him some photographs and he had picked out one which resembled the soldier who shot at him. He was told that the paratrooper in question had been among a number of British mercenaries who were tried and executed during the Angolan civil war after they had killed and wounded many innocent civilians.

The journalists showed him a picture of a man wearing a surgical gown and on crutches and told him this was the same paratrooper, that he was a Greek Cypriot nicknamed "Colonel Callan", and that he had fired 26 bullets on Bloody Sunday.

Another witness, Mr Brendan McCrossan, also described being fired upon at close range by soldiers, and shortly afterwards saw an armoured scout car appear in an opening behind Rossville Street. "The turret on top of the scout car turned so that the gun was pointing towards me," he said "A burst of shooting then started. I saw bullets coming through the gap towards me and I believed it was the scout car that was shooting."

The inquiry has now adjourned until January 15th.

Archives and transcripts of inquiry proceedings and rulings to date can be accessed on its internet site at http://www. bloody-sunday-inquiry.org.uk