Murder victim John Boreland was shot a number of times at close range as he got out of his car on Sunday night, police have revealed.
During a press conference this afternoon, Detective Chief Inspector Justyn Galloway, from the PSNI’s Serious Crime Branch, said a shotgun had been used to kill the 46-year-old father of three in north Belfast.
His injuries were so severe that Boreland, who had two sons and a daughter, died at the scene close to his flat Sunningdale Gardens.
Police also called for calm in the local community and said there will be an increased police presence in the area over the coming days.
They also confirmed that the loyalist had survived a previous attempt on his life in 2014.
Mr Galloway said: “At just before 9:50 last night John Boreland was returning home to his flat at Sunningdale Gardens in north Belfast. He had just got out of his car when he was shot at close range a number of times. His injuries were such that he died at the scene.
“Police believe that a shotgun was used in the attack. Mr Boreland was 46; he had lived in north Belfast for some time and leaves two sons and a daughter, a fiancee, a sister and his mother and father. I have visited the family today and I am sure you will understand that they are completely devastated.
“John Boreland was known to police. He had survived a previous attempt on his life in 2014 and had been warned by police about his safety within the past few months.
“Police are following a number of lines of enquiry in relation to this murder. Tensions within loyalist paramilitarism and criminality are among those lines of enquiry but they are not the only ones. Our early assessment is that this was not a sectarian attack.
“It is important that people with information about what happened last night or who have information about Mr Boreland come forward and give that information to police.
I have a number of specific appeals:
• I want to hear from anyone who was in the Sunningdale Gardens area around 9.50pm last night who saw or heard the shooting or anything suspicious.
• I also want to hear from anyone who saw a number of vehicles leaving the scene last night. These include a motorbike, a silver Renault Megan car and a black Peugeot 307 car.
• I also want to talk to anyone who can assist with completing a picture of Mr Boreland’s movements in the 24 hours leading up to his death. We know he was in a bar on the Oldpark Road until shortly before he was shot. I want to talk to anyone who was in his company there or saw or spoke to him after he left.
“This was a brutal and senseless killing. There can be no justification for it. Police are committed to bringing those responsible before the courts. We are also committed to taking the weapon used to kill Mr Boreland off the streets. To achieve this, we need assistance from the community.
“We have a special incident room set up at Musgrave police station and I would ask anyone with any information to contact detectives on the non-emergency number 101 or use the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 if they want to provide information anonymously.”
Police Superintendent Paula Hilman condemned the murder. She said: “Police are aware of tensions within loyalist paramilitary groupings in north Belfast and surrounding areas.
“We already have a significant policing operation in place across north Belfast, so I am appealing for people to be calm and not take the law into their own hands.
“I am also appealing to local people to work with us and provide information about this murder or any criminal activity.
“Detectives can be contacted on the non-emergency number 101 or people can use the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 without giving their details.
“It is only by working together that we can ensure that any criminal activity is appropriately addressed and that residents are able to go about their lives in safety.”