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

World Junior championships are not the first time Vancouver Giants head coach Michael Dyck (right) and defenceman Bowen Byram have shared a dressing room (Hockey Canada/Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Vancouver Giants Bowen Byram and Michael Dyck go back a long way

When Byram was 13, his coach was Dyck. Six years and several teams later, he still is.

A fuel leak at the Walnut Grove Community Centre resulted in fumes getting into Walnut Grove Secondary so the start of the school day was delayed as the building was ventilated on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021 (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
High school in North Langley shut down over fuel leak in nearby parking lot

Walnut Grove Secondary students were told that classes won’t start until 11:45 a.m. Friday morning

(Black Press Media photo)
Geriatric psychiatrist stresses importance of senior mental health

Dr. Hem Phaterpekar talks hope and healthy living amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Fraser Valley Regional Library board of directors recently finalized its budget. (Black Press Media files)
Fraser Valley Regional Library budget not enough to keep up with booming population

Almost $5 million of books, DVDs, and ebooks to be purchased in 2021

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey, Langley twin brothers who own companies together battle in court

Presiding judge described Surrey resident Kerry Hawley and Langley resident Kelly Petersen as ‘self-made successes’

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
536 COVID cases, 7 deaths reported as B.C. finds its first case of South African variant

Henry said 69,746 people have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

The route of the pink parade. The Record has blackened out the name of the teen. Facebook photo.
Pink-vehicle parade to be held Sunday in support of transgender teen assaulted in Mission

Teen and family to watch parade drive single file along waterfront at 3 p.m., Jan. 17

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials says it will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s. (Canadian Press file)
Full parole granted to former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse of boys

Alan Davidson convicted of abusing boys in B.C. and Saskatchewan in late ’70s, early ’90s

Letisha Reimer died Nov. 1, 2016 after being stabbed at Abbotsford Senior Secondary.
No evidence that killer was in ‘psychotic state’ during Abbotsford school stabbing: Crown

Second day of closing arguments at ‘not criminally responsible’ hearing for Gabriel Klein

The first COVID-19 vaccine arrives in B.C. in temperature-controlled containers, Dec. 13, 2020. (B.C. government)
More vaccine arrives as B.C. struggles with remote COVID-19 cases

Long-term care homes remain focus for public health

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in 60 B.C. First Nations by next week

B.C. has allocated 25,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to First Nations for distribution by the end of February

Most Read