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Senior PSNI officer shot in front of his son.

  • 23-02-2023 10:59am
    Registered Users Posts: 437 ✭✭

    Senior PSNI officer shot in front of his son

    Updated / Thursday, 23 Feb 2023 10:06

    Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell was the senior officer on many high-profile cases

    By Conor Macauley

    Northern Correspondent

    The senior PSNI officer shot and seriously injured in Omagh last night was accompanied by his young son at the time of the attack.

    Police have named the officer as Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell, who is believed to be in his late 40s.

    He was shot by masked men in front of young people he had been coaching at a sports complex on the Killyclogher Road.

    The injured officer remains in a critical but stable condition.

    Police said they had taken the step of naming him with the agreement of his family.

    Det Chief Inspector Caldwell is a senior policeman who has been involved in some high-profile investigations recently, including the death of Natalie McNally in Lurgan.

    Two gunmen opened fire and hit the off-duty officer several times as he tried to get away.

    Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan said a "brave" member of the public had rushed forward to try to assist the officer as the attack was under way.

    The gunmen escaped in a small black car, which was found burnt out a short time later.

    Assistant Chief Constable McEwan said the primary focus of the investigation was on dissident republicans, in particular the New IRA, but added: "We are keeping an open mind. There are multiple strands to that investigation."

    Police at the scene in Omagh last night

    Assistant Chief Constable McEwan told BBC Radio Ulster that Det Chief Inspector Caldwell was "a highly respected senior investigating officer who'd be familiar to many".

    "John is someone who dedicated himself to service, both as an SIO (senior investigative officer) in supporting victims and families in bringing others to justice and as an active member of the community, as has been described this morning.

    "Last night at approximately eight o'clock at the youth sports centre in Killyclogher Road, Omagh, whilst John was putting footballs into the boot of his car, and accompanied by his young son, two gunmen approached and we believe both have fired multiple shots.

    "John has ran a short distance and he's fallen to the ground, and as he's on the ground the gunmen have continued to fire at him.

    "That shows the absolute callous nature of this attack in a crowded space where there are children and parents in the vicinity, and we saw many of those young people and children running in sheer terror to get to safety.

    "At least two other vehicles have been struck, and again this highlights the callous and reckless nature of this attack."

    Gardaí said last night they had "intensified patrolling" in border counties and were cooperating with the PSNI.

    Joint statement from five party leaders

    There has been widespread political condemnation of the attack, with the leaders of the five main parties at Stormont issuing a joint statement, describing the shooting as cowardly.

    They said: "Our thoughts are with John and his family and we wish him a full recovery. We stand united in our outright condemnation of this attack.

    "We speak for the overwhelming majority of people right across our community who are outraged and sickened by this reprehensible and callous attempted murder.

    "The community of Omagh has endured profound suffering, loss, and pain in the past which has left a deep trauma, and so this act of violence has left people there rightly angered.

    "There is absolutely no tolerance for such attacks by the enemies of our peace. Those responsible must be brought to justice.

    "This will require the full co-operation of the public whom we call upon to assist police in this attempted murder investigation.

    "Together we stand with John's family and his colleagues in the police service at this time."

    It was signed by Michelle O'Neill (Sinn Féin), Jeffrey Donaldson (DUP), Naomi Long (Alliance), Doug Beattie (UUP) and Colum Eastwood (SDLP).

    Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell is a critical but stable condition (File pic)

    Last night, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar called it a "grotesque act of attempted murder", while British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was "appalled by the disgraceful shooting".

    Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the shooting was diabolical and unacceptable.

    She said: "There can be no hiding place for this. There can be no sympathy for this. There is no rhyme or reason politically speaking for a vicious act of thuggery like this."

    Ms McDonald said that she hoped there would be an all-Ireland response to the attack.

    "What we need is an all-Ireland effort cooperation between An Garda Síochána and the PSNI to find the motive for this act and more importantly to apprehend the perpetrators and anybody with any evidence or any information must not hesitate in bringing that forward immediately to the appropriate authorities," she said.

    Ms McDonald said whatever the motive it was utterly unacceptable to everyone and there was no excuse or political rationale for it.

    "I don't give tuppence if there is a supposed political rationale for this," she said.

    The shooting took place at a sports complex in Omagh

    In a statement this morning, the Catholic and Protestant archbishops of Armagh, Eamon Martin and John McDowell, said they were united in their "condemnation of this abhorrent attack on someone serving our community".

    They added: "It is impossible to find appropriate words even to describe let alone condemn such an act of depraved violence against a police officer who, as a public servant, works for the protection and well-being of the whole community.

    "Regardless of who they think they are, the individuals who planned and carried out this shooting represent a deep-seated criminal threat to the health and peace of our society and it is important that we do everything in our power to prevent such things from ever happening again."

    The Chairman of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland has said last night's attack was completely deplorable.

    Liam Kelly urged anyone with information to come forward to the PSNI so that the people behind the attack can be brought to justice.

    He said that his thoughts are with the officer and his family following the "barbaric, cold-blooded and callous" attack.

    The principal of Omagh High School, whose students were at the scene, has said that violence must be "pushed away from our community".

    "I can only imagine how difficult it must be for the youngsters this morning, waking up in the aftershock of what they experienced last night," Christos Gaitatzis told BBC Radio Ulster.

    "I feel that those people affected here last night were my children, were my family. We really need to get together as a community in order to make sure that these types of instances, that contain violence in the most heinous way I can describe, have to be pushed away from our community.

    "(We have to) make sure that those individuals are caught and isolated out of our community to make sure that Omagh remains the town that it always has been - a town that is together, is coming together at all times, especially during difficult circumstances like this."

    Additional reporting PA

    Senior PSNI officer shot in front of his son (



  • Registered Users Posts: 54,294 ✭✭✭✭walshb

    Despicable act. These scum need to be put away for life.

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,255 ✭✭✭✭banie01

    A heinous and abhorrent act. 25yrs ago the vast majority of NI and Ireland chose to ensure the gun was removed from Irish politics. I hope against hope that this is the act of "normal" criminals.

    It probably isn't, rumour is swirling that it's attributable to NIRA. This group of violent dinosaurs need to be both confronted and dismantled. Joint operation with PSNI & AGS to ensure there is no safe harbour for them anywhere on this Island.

    We have moved far beyond the need for armed struggle and we are at the point where the best advertising for a United Ireland is the lack of any actual coherent politics or policy from DUP/TUV and Bryson other than the old refrain of No and No surrender.

    Those who ordered, facilitated and commited this act? Must be brought to justice.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,485 ✭✭✭Topgear on Dave

    Shot in front of his kid at the kids football training.

    These people are low scum.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,483 ✭✭✭Xander10

    Nobody on this island wants to go back to them dark days. Hopefully those responsible will be caught soon and brought to justice.

  • Registered Users Posts: 363 ✭✭pjordan

    I imagine there are plenty within the Sinn Fein/Republician community who could easily identify the perpetrators in this case. But in the same way as the Lordship Credit Union robbery and murder of Adrian Donoghue and the Paul Quinn Murder in Monaghan as well as the lucrative border straddling diesel laundering Operations (i.e. Pension funds for old volunteers/activists!) the old Omerta still holds strong and no amount of calls from Mary Lou, however genuine and heartfelt, will induce them to come forward and spill the beans.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,662 ✭✭✭✭downcow

    I hope you are not suggesting there ever was a need to murder police officers. I’ll give you the benefit of doubt.

    it was classic ‘I Ran Away’ last night. Brings back bad memories for a huge proportion of ni community.

    not justified today

    not justified yesterday (even though MoN and Mary Lou say it was)

    not justified tomorrow

  • Registered Users Posts: 437 ✭✭TipsyMcStagge

    3 men arrested in Omagh and Coalisland.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,095 ✭✭✭paul71

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,722 ✭✭✭griffin100

    Are these what Gerry would refer to as good republicans?

    Real heroes shooting a man when he’s putting stuff in the boot of his car in front of kids.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,339 ✭✭✭corner of hells

    I don't think he is suggesting there was ever a need to shoot security forces.

    Nice of you give him the benefit of doubt .

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  • Registered Users Posts: 9,508 ✭✭✭Furze99

    Judgement on our Mary Lou may be made at the next SF Ard Fheis and her speech to the faithful there and various other nationalist republican gatherings. Will this PSNI officer feature in these speeches???

  • Registered Users Posts: 721 ✭✭✭French Toast

    And continued to fire at him as he lay on the ground.

    Human waste.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,023 ✭✭✭Quitelife

    The DUP blocking every effort to have Stormont up and running doesnt help the situation .

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,722 ✭✭✭griffin100

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,776 ✭✭✭Big Pussy Bonpensiero

    I can't really seem to get my head around this assassination attempt. To target a Detective Chief Inspector is, afaik, unheard of in Ireland. In the Republic, only 3 Gardaí above the rank of Sergeant have been killed, 1 Inspector killed by an IED, 1 Chief Superintendent killed by friendly fire and 1 Superintendent killed by the anti-treaty IRA, in 1948, 1972 and 1931 respectively. No members above the rank-equivalent of Garda have been killed (through crime) in the PSNI (granted it's only existed since 2001). I can't find the deaths of RUC members after admittedly only a quick google.

    To take out such a high-ranking member, they must have known it would spell the end for their organisation unless they are complete morons, which I think is too simple an explanation. I can only imagine the 3 guys involved did this without sanction from their higher-ups, and the fact that they were arrested so soon after suggest to me that they were given up by their own. It's absolutely going to provoke one of the strongest retaliations by both the AGS and the PSNI, similar to that seen in response to the Regency.

    Regardless of what happened, if NIRA members were responsible for this, they are finished as an organisation. I wouldn't be surprised to hear of many of its members in foreign countries in years to come.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,402 ✭✭✭Musicrules

    This is a pointless and senseless act if it was carried out by dissidents. In the past the ruc were a sectarian police force that had members who attacked the nationalist community and assisted other loyalists in doing the same. The psni are not the same.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,962 ✭✭✭Big Ears

    These **** have no interest in what Stormont is doing.

    In fact even if a United Ireland came about, they still wouldn't be happy with "how it's run" and would likely attempt a coup or continue paramilitary activities.

    And in a bizarre World where they did manage to control the whole island, they'd start to fight with each other instead.

    Put simply, they're a waste of oxygen.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,023 ✭✭✭Quitelife

    If there was a Functiong government in Stormont it would make dissidents even more irrelevent but instead of that the DUP come up with every obstacle possible to prevent a member of the nationalist community been first minister giving people who say politics doesnt work more reason for their mad carry on.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,091 ✭✭✭Jinglejangle69

    He recently gave evidence in the case against Gerry Hutch.


  • Registered Users Posts: 13,867 ✭✭✭✭elperello

    The New IRA know they can't win.

    The shooting is not part of some co-ordinated campaign because there isn't one.

    It's more of a grisly "we haven't gone away " message.

    I hope John Caldwell makes speedy recovery.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,722 ✭✭✭griffin100

    There was no functioning assembly between 2017 and 2020 due to SF withdrawing. Based on your logic that would have given one of the loyalist terror groups a reason to start killing catholics again.

    These scum bags aren’t concerned about Stormont or the NI Protocol. They are first and foremost criminals masquerading as republicans, using the cache the latter used to have to justify their activities. They’re worried about their increasing irrelevance to NI and can’t accept that (I’d say the same about loyalist groups as well).

    The irony is that this type of activity delays the day that we end up with a United Ireland. It’s most likely coming at some stage, the only question is really when.

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,662 ✭✭✭✭downcow

    I don’t understand your confusion. The Ra have being killing officers of whatever rank they can reach for 50 years. Don’t know why you see this as different

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,662 ✭✭✭✭downcow

    The dup have nothing to do with this. It’s the Ra and those that spawned them

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,662 ✭✭✭✭downcow

    The big problem is that 1,000s of officers have their lives turned upside down instantly. They now have to worry every waking (and sleeping) hour

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,402 ✭✭✭Musicrules

    Let's make this clear, the shooting of this officer was disgusting and things have moved on from the ruc days but it's still not perfect. For example, the psni have been treating families looking for justice for their relatives killed during the 'troubles' in a very unfair way. Covering up for murders committed by the uda etc. Also, Catholics get arrested twice as twice as much Protestants in the north.

    This doesn't excuse these scumbags. Just showing that even the much improved psni still have old ruc habits.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,015 ✭✭✭mikethecop

    you say your not excusing it but you sort of are in a sneaky underhanded way with your crappy sneery unsubstantiated nasty post

    hard to believe anyone would have your mindset in 2023 especially about trying to murder a man in front of children but i guess those animals stil exist distasteful as it is

    the sooner we hunt them down and eradicate them the better. that was a mistake we made the last time we jail our terrorist instead of executing them , GFA let them out and this is part of the consequences

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,662 ✭✭✭✭downcow

    That is pathetic. Practically all historic enquiries are about the killing of nationalists. There are practically no enquiries into the killings by the Ra , and you are still not happy.

    could you give us the link to the data that shows twice as many Catholics are being arrested as ——?(whatever the other category is)

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,402 ✭✭✭Musicrules

    No, I'm not. You're allowed to be against the scumbags who shot this man and also point out the reality that the ruc colluded with loyalist terrorists in the past and the psni have been covering up for them.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,402 ✭✭✭Musicrules

    I just linked the data for you. Do you want links to the court judgement which found the psni failed to investigate the glenane gang? Or other cover ups for loyalist murder gangs?