The PSNI have assured those who attended the tragic St Patrick’s Day event in Cookstown that they are only interested in what caused the deaths of three teenagers - not in the fact that underage children were queuing for a licensed premises.
Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray, Head of Serious Crime Branch, said they had identified around 160 people from a crowd of 400 and that they are keen to speak to more witnesses,
The PSNI focus, he said, is to find out what happened which resulted in the deaths of three teenagers after an apparent crush in a queue into the hotel on Sunday night.
Lauren Bullock, 17, Morgan Barnard, 17, and 16-year-old Connor Currie, died after the incident outside the Greenvale Hotel, Cookstown, on Sunday.
Books of condolence are being opened for the victims today.
In a press conference this morning, DSI Murray, said: “It is now just over 24 hours since we launched our investigation into the tragedy that unfolded at the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown on Sunday night.
“I want to extend my heartfelt sympathies to the families of the three teenagers who so sadly lost their lives – 16-year-old Connor Currie from the Dungannon area, 17-year-old Lauren Bullock from the Donaghmore area and 17-year-old Morgan Barnard also from the Dungannon area. It is difficult to appreciate the level of grief these families must be feeling as Sunday turned into their worst nightmare.
“Over a day into our investigation I can tell you we have already traced the identities of over 160 witnesses and have already spoken to a number of young people who were in the queue at the Greenvale Hotel on Sunday night. Arrangements have been made to speak to many more over the coming days.
“I want to thank everyone who has spoken with us so far, however, there is still a significant number of people who were there that night, in the queue, and I need them to come forward to speak to police so we can understand what happened. Initial CCTV viewing would lead us to estimate that perhaps as many as 400 people were in the queue or car park at that time.
“A number of parents have indicated they are concerned that their children, who may have been underage, were trying to enter a licensed premises. I want to reassure you, the focus of our investigation is not the age of people who were at the event – it is about trying to find answers for the families of the three teenagers who tragically died – we need to know what you saw so the heartbroken families of Connor, Lauren and Morgan know what happened to their children.
“I would urge parents to talk with your children, support them and encourage them to come forward and tell their story to police so we can get an accurate picture of events that night.
“Talk to your children, reassure them – we know they may be scared – but again I can assure you we are only interested in establishing what happened. Their account of events on Sunday night could be crucial to establishing how Connor, Lauren and Morgan died.”
Detectives can be contacted at the dedicated incident room at Dungannon police station by calling 101, extension 53055.
Witnesses can also visit the dedicated room at the Burnavon Arts Centre in Cookstown, open from 10am this morning, Tuesday 19 March.
Anyone with any information, images or footage can also pass it to police via the following link: https://mipp.police.uk/operation/PSNI19O08-PO1.