Neighbours shocked by Ballymoney murder

Police at the murder scene where a man was shot and a woman injured in the Riverview area of Ballymoney on Monday evening. PICTURE STEVEN MCAULEY/MCAULEY MULTIMEDIA
Police at the murder scene where a man was shot and a woman injured in the Riverview area of Ballymoney on Monday evening. PICTURE STEVEN MCAULEY/MCAULEY MULTIMEDIA

Stunned neighbours of a man shot dead in Co Antrim have spoken of their horror at the killing.

The victim, in his 40s, was attacked outside a house in Riverview Park in Ballymoney, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said.

A woman who was inside the property was beaten and was taken to hospital where she is being treated for injuries which are not believed to be life-threatening.

At least two children of primary school age may also have been in the white pebble-dashed bungalow at the time of the attack.

Locals said the dead man, who was not well known, had only recently moved into the property and was not believed to be from the Ballymoney area. However, the woman has been living there with her family for some time.

Detective Chief Inspector Richard Campbell said the incident happened just before 10.30 on Monday night.

Ivy Owens, whose house backs on to the property where the murder happened, choked back emotions as she described hearing the shots being fired.

She said: “I was lying with my daughter in bed in the back bedroom when I heard two almighty bangs - which I never thought for one minute were gunshots. I looked out the window to see if I could see or hear anything in my yard because it sounded so close. But I couldn’t see anything.

“Moments later my husband came home and then we saw lights (from emergency services) coming in but, again we didn’t match the arrival of the lights with shots.

“I didn’t really think it was gunshots until I heard this morning.

“I am really shocked. It’s such a quiet place.”

Ms Owens, who has lived in the area since 1997, said she had been left frightened by the shooting.

“Those children go to school with my children, so it is unreal and it does leave you frightened,” she added.

The cul-de-sac, which is not far from a memorial garden to late motorcycle racing star Joey Dunlop, remains cordoned off with blue and white police tape and a number of police patrol cars preventing members of the public from entering a large area.

Leslie Gregg, a resident of Riverview Park for almost 20 years, said he was shocked by the shooting.

Mr Gregg said: “I think it is terrible news. For this to happen to any family is just terrible. I wouldn’t know the victim by name but I might know him to see. It is really shocking - just terrible, but these things do happen.

“We have been here almost 20 years and nothing like this has ever happened at all. It is normally a very quiet area.

“I saw the blue lights of the (ambulance) response and the police come in along with them so I thought to myself there must be something wrong. I thought maybe it was a domestic but then I heard it was much worse.”

Meanwhile, Beth McCracken, who has lived in the area for 12 years, said: “It’s not often there is so much activity about here. It is normally very quiet. It was a shock this morning. To have something like that come to your doorstep is unbelievable.

“I probably know them to speak to but not personally.

“This fella is not long here and apparently he is not from here.”

The shooting has been condemned by politicians on both sides of the sectarian divide.

DUP MLA for North Antrim Mervyn Storey was at the scene this morning and said the community had been left reeling by the shooting.

He also appealed for anyone with information to give it to police.

Sinn Fein MLA Daithi McKay said the killers must be caught.

He said in a statement: “This murder is a terrible blow to the victim’s family and my thoughts are with them as they come to terms with this dreadful news. Those behind the murder need to be taken off the streets.”