Northern Ireland journalist is killed; police hunt suspects

29-year-old journalist and author Lyra McKee was shot and killed

Armed police stage at the scene of unrest in Creggan, Londonderry, in Northern Ireland, Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Niall Carson/PA via AP)

Police in Northern Ireland said Friday they are searching for multiple suspects in the fatal shooting of a journalist during overnight rioting in the city of Londonderry.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said 29-year-old journalist and author Lyra McKee was shot and killed, probably by a stray bullet, during rioting in the city’s Creggan neighbourhood. It said the dissident group, the New IRA, was most likely responsible.

READ MORE: U.S. tells Saudis to hold ‘accountable’ killers of journalist

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said a gunman fired a number of shots at police during the unrest Thursday evening.

“We believe this to be a terrorist act,” he said. “We believe it has been carried out by violent dissident republicans.”

Hamilton said the force’s assessment “is that the New IRA are most likely to be the ones behind this and that forms our primary line of inquiry.”

McKee was a rising talent who had written eloquently about the challenges of coming out as gay in Northern Ireland. Her partner, Sara Canning, told a vigil that McKee’s amazing potential had been snuffed out.

“It has left so many friends without their confidante,” she said.

Canning said the senseless murder “has left me without the love of my life, the woman I was planning to grow old with.”

A murder investigation has been launched but there have been no arrests yet. Police appealed for calm to prevail over the long Easter holiday weekend.

Speaking in Dublin, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said the people of Ireland and Northern Ireland had chosen peace and co-operation 21 years ago and will not be “dragged into the past” by political violence.

The New IRA is a small group who reject the 1998 Good Friday agreement that marked the Irish Republican Army’s embrace of a political solution to the long-running violence known as “The Troubles” that claimed more than 3,700 lives.

The group is also blamed for a Londonderry car bombing that did not cause any injuries in January. It is regarded as the largest of the splinter dissident groups still operating and has been linked to several other killings in the past decade.

Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin said Friday that police believe more than one person was involved in the shooting.

“We certainly believe there was more than one person who was involved in this last night. Obviously only one person pulled the trigger but there was more than one person,” he said.

He said the violence started after police entered the area to search for weapons and that the gunman was aiming at policemen when the rioting intensified.

“The full and total responsibility for Lyra McKee’s death lies with the organization that sent someone out with a gun,” he said.

Londonderry Mayor John Boyle said the city was united in mourning McKee’s death.

“I have known her since she was 16 years old,” he said. “She was bright, she was warm, she was witty. But most of all she was an outstanding individual, a great friend to so, so many people in this city in the short time that she was with us.”

There has been an increase in tensions in Northern Ireland in recent months with sporadic violence, much of it focused in Londonderry, also known as Derry.

McKee rose to prominence in 2014 with a moving blog post — “Letter to my 14 year old self ” — describing the struggle of growing up gay in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland.

In the post, she described the shame she felt at 14 as she kept the “secret” of being gay from her family and friends and the love she eventually received when she was finally able to reveal it.

McKee had recently signed a contract to write two books.

Hours before her death, she tweeted a photo of the riot with the words: “Derry tonight. Absolute madness.”

Gregory Katz, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Police forensic officers at the scene in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Friday April 19, 2019, following the death of 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee who was shot and killed during overnight rioting. Police in Northern Ireland said Friday they are investigating the fatal shooting of a journalist during overnight rioting in the city of Londonderry.

In this undated family photo made available Friday April 19, 2019, issued by Northern Ireland Police, showing journalist Lyra McKee who was shot and killed when guns were fired during clashes with police Thursday night April 18, 2019, in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Police are investigating the shooting death of 29-year-old McKee, during street violence Thursday night.(Family photo/PSNI via AP)

Just Posted

City of Campbell River making headway on invasive species treatment

Too many private property owners unresponsive to notifications regarding knotweed, however

VIDEO: Merville wildlife rescuers tell story with new visitor centre

Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society opened visitor centre to support animal work

Campbell River Ravens swept out of PNWLL playoffs

The Campbell River Ravens were swept out of the Jr. B Pacific… Continue reading

Land-based aquaculture proponent gets Haig-Brown Conservation Award

Eric Hobson known for financing and building Kuterra in partnership with ‘Namgis First Nation

La Familia gets Campbell River’s River City Arts Festival swaying to the music

Campbell River Arts Festival was treated to the sounds of Latin music… Continue reading

VIDEO: Missing teens named as suspects in three northern B.C. killings

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are wanted in the deaths of Lucas Fowler, Chynna Deese, unknown man

Memorial bench painted by Vancouver woman to stay in park for now

Park board to look at options for artistic enhancements on commemorative benches

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Weather Network’s anti-meat video ‘doesn’t reflect true story’: cattle ranchers

At issue is the video’s suggestion that cutting back on meat consumption could help save the planet

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

Wrestling legend finds his wedding dance groove in B.C.

Professional wrestler Chris Jericho posted on social media that he was in Penticton recently

Horgan hints at Daylight Saving Time changes after record survey response

More than 223,000 online surveys were submitted in the government’s public consultation

Coroner investigating after body recovered from Okanagan Lake

Penticton fire department assisted the RCMP with the recovery of a body Saturday

Overdoses overwhelming in B.C. Interior

Part two: Who’s affected by the current opioid crisis

Most Read