Man shot dead in front of children in west Belfast

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A man has been shot dead in front of terrified children from a nearby school in west Belfast.

Panicked parents heard gunfire and rushed to the scene at around 3pm on Tuesday afternoon, elected representatives added.

The victim was sitting in his parked car when the attack happened near St Mary’s Grammar School on the Glen Road at around closing time.

A man aged in his 40s wearing a high-visibility vest is sought by detectives.

The victim’s Porsche car was covered in a tarpaulin and forensics officers combed the area for clues.

St Mary’s issued a statement on Tuesday evening saying it will be closed on Wednesday.

“The thoughts and prayers of the Principal and all the staff are with our pupil and his family at this very sad time,” the school’s statement said.

“Ensuring that all pupils got home safely was our absolute focus following this tragic incident.

“The school will be closed on Wednesday 5th December 2018 due to the on-going investigation. The school will be providing pupils with counselling and support services.”

West Belfast MP Paul Maskey said: “It is deeply concerning that this killing was carried out in full view of hundreds of kids who were leaving school at the time.”

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) attended but transported nobody from the scene, a statement said.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) confirmed an incident had occurred and closed a number of roads nearby.

Detective Chief Inspector Peter Montgomery said: “Police are currently at the scene of a shooting during which a man died this afternoon.

“I would like to appeal to anyone who saw a man in his 40s, wearing a high vis vest with the words Security on the back heading in the direction of Glen Road, as well as anyone who witnessed the shooting or was in the Glen Road area from 3pm today, to come forward and speak to police.”

An NIAS statement said: “The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service received a 999 call at 15:14 on Tuesday 04 December 2018 following reports of an incident in the Glen Road area of Belfast.

“Two paramedic officers and one rapid response paramedic were dispatched to the incident.

“No one was transported from the scene.”

SDLP Belfast City Councillor Tim Attwood said the alleged attack was reckless.

“It is absolutely sickening that a gun was fired in the vicinity of both a primary and secondary school in west Belfast today.

“A number of pupils witnessed this fatality and are understandably very disturbed and frightened after this reckless act occurred nearby the school gates.

“There is absolutely no place for this in 2018; this madness belongs in the past and we cannot allow it to once again become our normality.”

The Glen Road, usually a busy thoroughfare, was dominated by cordons, police land rovers and flashing lights.

Some children were unable to make their way up the road and received assistance from youth workers.

The area includes two post-primary schools and nursery schools.

A tall metal curtain has been erected to block a view of the scene of the shooting.

Transport operator Translink said its services had been diverted.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said: “Due to an incident on the Glen Rd, west Belfast, drivers are advised the area between the Monagh bypass & Glen Rd junction up to Shaws Rd & Glen Rd junction is closed until further notice.

“Please avoid the area and seek alternative route if possible.”

Paramilitary-style shootings are a regular occurrence in Northern Ireland, 20 years after the Good Friday Agreement which largely ended violence, although most are not fatal.

Detectives have not yet commented on any potential motives for the attack or who may be responsible.

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