THE bodies of a farmer and farm labourer who were blasted to death have been found on a rural farm.
Art Gibson and his labourer Michael Murphy were discovered in an isolated farmhouse outside the village of Glenarm, Co Antrim, early yesterday evening.
Last night police were at the scene on the Feystown Road after they were found in the property around a mile from the village at 5.15pm.
It is believed that Mr Gibson, who was in his early 60s, owned the property where the bodies were found by a farm worker.
The respected farmer lived alone, had no children and had lived there all his life.
Local people said the farm had been passed down from generation to generation.
"Art was a hard-working man and a good farmer – a proper gentleman who kept to himself," said former Larne mayor Gerardine Mulvenna.
"He was very well-known and thought of in farming circles."
Mr Murphy is originally from nearby Larne but had moved to the Glenarm area. He had a partner and young children.
He was in his 20s or 30s and had been a labourer for the farmer for a few years.
Sources said the two men had been friends for a long time before yesterday's tragedy.
A PSNI spokesman said: "An investigation into the circumstances surrounding the deaths is under way. There are no further details at present."
At this stage it is understood police are not treating the incident as terrorist related.
There was a heavy police presence at the scene last night.
Mr Gibson's farm is in a very isolated rural area overlooking Glenarm, with the nearest house five minutes away.
Forensic teams carried out examinations with investigating officers looking on.
A small crowd of local people started to gather at police cordons as news filtered through of the sudden deaths.
A sense of disbelief pervaded the scene as neighbours and relatives arrived to help move cattle and carry out other farm duties.
One said: "I'll guess we'll never know what happened."
Alliance East Antrim MLA Stewart Dickson said: "This is an absolutely shocking incident, which has left the village and the surrounding community in shock.
"My thoughts are with the families and friends of the deceased and would call for anyone with any information to contact the PSNI as soon as possible."
Sinn Fein MLA Oliver McMullan said people were "in a state of shock".
"The thoughts in the area are of disbelief, absolute shock and horror at what has happened. This is a very close-knit community, everyone gets on very well."