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)

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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.

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)

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

Dr. Bonnie Henry B.C.’s provincial health officer, updates the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
UPDATED: South Mission added to list of high-transmission COVID zones

Anyone 30 and over in the area can now register for a vaccine

Motorists breaking travel rules can be fined $230 for failing to follow instructions or $575 if the reason for travel violates the essential travel health order, at this Highway 3 check area near Manning Park. Photo RCMP
RCMP begin stopping drivers on BC highways – check point at Manning Park

Four check points are set up Thursday May 6 around the province

Architectural drawings of the apartment on Barker Court presented at Mission council.
Once-rejected development moves forward, after council demands better affordability terms

1st application rejected in March because low rates only offered for 5 years

The Aquilini Investment Group has agreed to a proposed contract of five years to run the Abbotsford Centre. (File photo)
Proposal to run Abbotsford Centre offered to Canucks ownership group

Planned five-year contract to cost city $750K annually, starting Jan. 1, 2022

Coun. Ken Herar said a local rally will take place beside Lougheed Highway in front of the FreshCo from 3 to 4 p.m., and if anyone wishes to join him, to email: kenherar@gmail.com.
District of Mission proclaims May 10 as ‘Day of Action Against Anti-Asian Racism’

Municipality joins over 12 other Canadian cities making proclamation after spike in hate crimes

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Surrey RCMP is investigating after a serious three-vehicle crash at the intersection of King George Boulevard and 128th Street Thursday afternoon (May 6, 2021). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
VIDEO: Serious crash in Surrey sends 1 to hospital

Surrey RCMP say one of the drivers fled on foot, but was later found at an area hospital

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

John Paul Fraser, executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association. (Screen shot)
Salmon farmers warn Surrey jobs on line as feds end Discovery Islands operations

344 full-time jobs at risk in Surrey and 1,189 B.C.-wide

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Most Read