Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell, an off-duty PSNI police officer who was holding a football training session with his son and other children from the community, has been shot and seriously injured in Omagh, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland.
The incident occurred on the evening of 22 February, and a manhunt is underway for the suspect.
The injured officer was taken to hospital, where he is said to be in a serious but stable condition. The incident has been condemned by PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne as a “sickening and cowardly” attack.
The Police Federation for Northern Ireland echoed the condemnation and called for the public to cooperate with the investigation.
According to BBC News, the shooting occurred in the Kevlin Road area of Omagh. The suspect reportedly fired multiple shots before fleeing the scene.
The police have not yet confirmed the identity of the suspect, but they have urged anyone with information to come forward.
In a tweet, the PSNI described the incident as a “senseless and reckless act.” The Police Federation for Northern Ireland also tweeted, expressing their support for Detective Chief Inspector Caldwell and his family.
The fact that the police officer was off-duty and engaged in community activities has sparked outrage among politicians and community leaders in Northern Ireland, with many expressing their shock and horror at the cowardly attack.
Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris condemned the shooting, calling it a “disgraceful and sinister act.”
The shooting comes amid heightened tensions in Northern Ireland in the wake of recent violence in loyalist areas. It has also raised fears that the country may be returning to the violence of the past, with memories of the Troubles still fresh in the minds of many.
Northern Ireland has seen a rise in violence and unrest in recent months. In April 2021, loyalist riots erupted in Belfast, injuring dozens of police officers and leading to calls for calm.
The shooting of Detective Chief Inspector Caldwell has reignited fears that the fragile peace in Northern Ireland is at risk of being shattered once again.
The Police Federation for Northern Ireland has called for an urgent meeting with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to discuss the situation.
Politicians and community leaders have also spoken out in condemnation of the shooting. Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald called it a “heinous and cowardly” attack and urged anyone with information to come forward.
The Ulster Unionist Party leader Doug Beattie said the shooting was a “sickening reminder of the ongoing threat to our police officers.”
The investigation into the shooting is ongoing, and the PSNI has appealed to the public for any information that may help identify the suspect.
The community of Omagh is said to be in shock and has come together in solidarity with Detective Chief Inspector Caldwell and his family.
In the meantime, the PSNI has stepped up patrols in the area and warned the public to be vigilant.
The shooting has also raised questions about the safety of off-duty police officers in Northern Ireland, with some calling for greater protection and support for those on the front lines.
This is a developing story, and we will bring you more information as it becomes available.