Ballymoney murder: Neighbours heard gunfire

Ivy Owens
Ivy Owens

Residents have spoken of their horror after a neighbour was beaten and then shot in their street.

Brian McIlhagga, 42, was attacked and killed when at least three armed and masked men forced their way into a house in Riverview Park, Ballymoney in Co Antrim.

Neighbours who heard two shots ring out have spoken of their horror at the attack.

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

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.

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 came in along with them so I thought to myself there must be something wrong.”

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.”