gangland murder  | 

Belfast gangster shot dead in front of his mother yards from Crossan murder scene

Sources have told the Sunday World there is a link between the murder of Warren Crossan and Mark Hall
Mark Hall

Mark Hall

Steven Moore

Belfast gangster Mark Hall was blasted to death in front of his mother last night.

Gunmen fired several bullets into him through a living room window of his mum’s house in Rodney Drive.

Hall (30) had links to organised crime and was believed to be a close friend of slain gangster Warren Crossan.

It’s understood he was not long out of jail and had recently been acquitted of gun and drug offences.

His co-accused, Abdel Rezk from Co Cork, was jailed for three years after the pair were found in a room in the Balmoral Hotel with two guns, a silencer and drugs.

The shocking murder took place in Rodney Drive in the St James’s area of the city around 5pm – just yards from where his 28-year-old best mate Crossan was blasted to death by gunmen 18 months ago. One witness said: “I heard eight shots and then heard the screeching of tires as the getaway car left the street.”

It’s understood Hall’s mother was in the house with him and had just stepped out of the front room moments before the attack.

Witnesses, including MLA Gerry Carroll, say they heard several shots being fired at the property.

He said the community was “disgusted and outraged” at the gun attack.

The scene of the shooting in Belfast

The scene of the shooting in Belfast

One eye-witness who had arrived on the scene about 20 minutes after the shooting said there was a big crowd of the victim’s friends gathered nearby.

“There was a big police presence but the ambulance had already left with the man’s body,” he said.

“The police had both ends of the street sealed off but were letting residents through.

“I heard that he had been hit as many as eight times and was dead before the paramedics arrived.”

Friends took to social media to pay tribute to the victim who had taken part in some boxing events in south Belfast.

One pal said: “So sad news RIP my friend Mark Hall lovely guy never forget to the good times we had.”

While another posted: “Such sad news. He was a great fella. Rest in peace Mark.”

SDLP Councillor Paul Doherty said the incident had “shocked and traumatised” the community.

“This is a great area and this attack comes as the community was getting some positive news for a change with the local Christmas market and the St James Farm,” Mr Doherty told the Sunday World.

“The area has had its problems but it was finally getting a positive atmosphere but for this to happen a few days before Christmas is distressing.

“The community has been shocked and traumatised by this attack. It seem they fired several shots through his window. An ambulance took the man away to hospital and our thoughts are with his family.

“There is no place for violence in this society. I would encourage anyone with information to come forward and assist the PSNI with their inquiries.”

The local community has unfortunately had to deal with gun violence recently as the deadly attack took place close to the scene of another murder 18 months ago.

On that occasion gangland figure and father-of-two Warren Crossan was shot dead in broad daylight in St Katharine’s Road in June 2020 when two gunmen chased him and fired a number of shots in the busy residential area.

Crossan (28) was previously arrested and questioned about the murder of Robbie Lawlor, a Dublin criminal who was shot dead in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast in April 2020.

Crossan was the son of a well-known dissident republican Tommy Crossan, who was shot dead on the Springfield Road, Belfast, in 2014.

Crime sources have already claimed there is a link between the two murders. However, the PSNI have not arrested any suspects or identified any motive.

There remained a significant police presence last night where St James’s Crescent meets Rodney Drive.

People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll described the attackers as “callous and brutal”.

He told the BBC: “Given it’s just before Christmas, these actions are callous and brutal at any time of the year, but when people are trying to spend time with their family, their friends, their loved ones, it’s even more horrendous.

“My sympathy goes out to the family who have experienced this. It’s really an awful thing.”

Sinn Féin’s Pat Sheehan said there was “absolutely no place in our community for guns or for those involved in this attack.

“A police operation is ongoing in the St.James’ area and I would appeal to anyone with information on this shooting to bring it forward to the PSNI.”

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