Thursday 17 October 2019

Two teenagers arrested in connection with murder of Lyra McKee

Journalist Lyra McKee. Picture: Jess Lowe
Journalist Lyra McKee. Picture: Jess Lowe
Suspect: A still from the footage released by the PSNI showing the suspect (circled)
Lyra McKee
Tragic: PSNI image of Lyra McKee (circled) within the crowd watching the rioting in Derry before she was shot. Photo: PA
Happy couple: Lyra McKee and her partner Sara Canning
Heart-broken: Lyra McKee’s partner Sara Canning, at a vigil in Derry yesterday. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Kathy Armstrong

Kathy Armstrong

Two men have been arrested in connection with the murder of Lyra McKee.

The 29-year-old journalist was shot in the head by suspects who police believe were dissident republicans linked to the New IRA on the Creggan estate in Derry on Thursday night.

A PSNI spokesperson said this morning: "Major Investigation Team detectives have arrested two men, aged 18 and 19 under the Terrorism Act, in connection with the murder of Lyra McKee in the Creggan area of Derry on Thursday, 18th April. 

"They have been taken to Musgrave Serious Crime Suite."

CCTV released by Police Service Northern Ireland captured her final moments at around 10pm, when she stood among a crowd of other innocent bystanders and raised her phone in the air, apparently to photograph the violence.

An outpouring of tributes to the writer was led by her partner, Sara Canning, who said Ms McKee's "amazing potential was snuffed out by this single barbaric act".

Ms Canning said: "Victims and LGBTQIA community are left without a tireless advocate and activist and it has left me without the love of my life, the woman I was planning to grow old with.

"This cannot stand, Lyra's death must not be in vain because her life was a shining light in everyone else's life and her legacy will live on and the life that she has left behind."

Police, who described the shooting as a "terrorist incident", believe the violence was orchestrated in response to an earlier search by officers aimed at averting imminent trouble associated with this week's anniversary of the Easter Rising.

Around 50 petrol bombs were thrown in the confrontation and two cars were burned out.

Officers believe more than one person was involved in the murder.

In the video footage an accomplice beside the gunman appears to crouch and pick something up from the spot where the shots were fired.

Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy, who leads the inquiry, described the murder as "senseless and appalling beyond belief".

"People saw the gunman and people saw those who goaded young people out onto the streets, people know who they are," he said.

"The answers to what happened last night lie within the community.

"I am asking people to do the right thing for Lyra McKee, for her family and for the city of Derry/Londonderry and help us stop this madness."

He said police have already received "a large number of calls and information".

Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin addressed the suspects directly at a press conference, saying: "This was not done to further any cause, this will have achieved nothing other than to plunge a family into grief."

Political leaders including British Prime Minister Theresa May and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar joined to condemn the murder.

"My deepest condolences go to her family, friends and colleagues," Mrs May said. "She was a journalist who died doing her job with great courage."

Mr Varadkar added: "We cannot allow those who want to propagate violence, fear and hate to drag us back to the past."

Former United States president Bill Clinton tweeted: "Heartbroken by the murder of Lyra McKee and the violence in Derry.

"The challenges in NI today are real-but we cannot let go of the last 21 years of hard-won peace and progress. This tragedy is a reminder of how much everyone has to lose if we do."

With additional reporting by PA

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