Off-duty PSNI officer shot while coaching youth football team as gunmen flee across border

The Gardaí are helping the PSNI with their investigation.

The scene of the shooting

The scene of the shooting ​

PSNI officers at the scene

PSNI officers at the scene

A police car at the scene

Staff reporterIndependent.ie

A senior PSNI officer is in a critical but stable condition after he was approached by two gunmen and shot several times at a sports centre in Omagh, Co Tyrone.

It is understood the officer was off duty at the time and had been coaching a youth football team.

Initial reports suggested the shooting happened in front of young people at the football coaching session.

It’s believed the detective inspector was approached by two gunmen who opened fire on the Killyclogher Road at around 8pm.

The two assailants are believed to have fled across the border to the Republic, and the Gardaí are helping the PSNI with their investigation.

It happened in front of young people at a football coaching session. He was shot multiple times in what the Police Federation described as “a callous, cold-blooded and barbaric attempted murder”.

The officer, who has been involved in a series of high-profile cases, was given first aid at the scene and rushed to hospital.

There were also reports of a car found burning a short distance from the scene.

A local source told the Sunday World that they heard four gun shots.

There was a heavy police presence at the scene tonight as the investigation continues.

A police car at the scene

Northern Ireland’s chief constable vowed to “relentlessly pursue” those behind the gun attack on the off-duty PSNI officer.

The high-ranking detective is in a critical but stable condition in hospital following the shooting in Omagh, Simon Byrne said.

“I am shocked and saddened by tonight’s events in Omagh,” he said.

"The officer is in a critical but stable condition in hospital.

“My thoughts are with him, his family and his colleagues.

“We will relentlessly pursue those responsible. They have nothing to offer our community.”

Liam Kelly, the chair of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, said: “This was a callous, cold-blooded and barbaric attempted murder on an off-duty officer. The officer is well known and respected in the area and plays an active role in the community. He is also well known within policing circles and is highly regarded by his colleagues.”

The scene of the shooting ​

The PSNI earlier confirmed the shooting in a statement.

"Police are currently at the scene of a shooting in the Killyclogher Road area of Omagh,” they said.

"One man, a serving police officer, has been taken to hospital for treatment after being injured in a shooting incident at a sports complex just before 8pm this evening. More details will be issued when available,” they added.

Gardaí have confirmed they are also investigating.

In a statement, the Garda said it is "currently responding to an ongoing incident which took place earlier this evening in Northern Ireland".

"We are working closely in cooperation with our counterparts in the PSNI," a spokesperson said.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar described the attack as “grotesque”.

"I have heard the terrible news from Omagh about the shooting of an off duty PSNI officer tonight,” Mr Varadkar said in a statement.

“Our thoughts are with the injured officer, his family, colleagues and friends at this difficult time.

“I utterly condemn this grotesque act of attempted murder.

“I call on anyone with information about it to share it with the PSNI.”

Ulster Unionist Party MLA Tom Elliott has indicated the police officer attacked in Omagh was shot in front of young people at a football coaching session.

"Despicable, cowardly action. No place in society for this," he tweeted.

While dissident republicans from the New IRA who would have a small base in Co Tyrone, the detective targeted would also have been involved in investigating organised crime gangs.

PSNI officers at the scene

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) said it received a 999 call at 8.02pm following reports of an incident in the Slievard area of Killyclogher.

“NIAS despatched a Rapid Response Paramedic, an Emergency Crew and an ambulance officer to the incident,” a spokesman said.

"Following assessment and initial treatment at the scene, one patient was taken by ambulance to Altnagelvin Area Hospital.”

He is the first police officer to be shot in a gun attack in Northern Ireland since 2017 when a uniform officer was injured coming out of a garage on the Crumlin Road in north Belfast.

On that occasion dissident republican gunmen opened fire with an AK 47 causing serious hand injuries to the officer.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood MP said the attack on the officer in Omagh is “a chilling attack on an individual serving his community and must be treated as an attack on the people of Ireland who have long rejected this kind of senseless violence”.

PSNI officers at the scene

The Foyle MP added: “The brutal attack on a police officer in Omagh this evening is a chilling reminder of the horrifying violence that criminal gangs are willing to visit on the people of Northern Ireland.

“My thoughts and the thoughts of my SDLP colleagues are with the man and with the paramedics, doctors, nurses and police colleagues looking after him at this time.

"In the face of appalling violence that has no place in modern Ireland, their bravery and selfless dedication to service is an enduring reminder that for every individual determined to tear us apart, there are hundreds more committed to defending our peace and all those who live under it.

“Those behind this attack are committed to the fallacy that they are at war with the British establishment. Let me say very clearly to them that they are not. As I have said before, their fight is not with the British Government or the PSNI. Their fight is with the people of Ireland who have chosen peace. And it is a fight that they will never, never win.”

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