Pupils from schools near the scene of yesterday’s murder in west Belfast initially thought an ‘active shooter’ was targeting their school.
Police have praised the community which came together to ensure all children remained safe in the aftermath of the incident.
It’s believed that children as young as seven years of age may have witnesses the murder and police say they are understandably traumatised.
Jim Donegan was sitting in his red Porsche on the Glen Road, waiting to collect his son from school, when he was shot.
Police say today (Wednesday) two schools have closed, impacting on the vital education of over 1,000 young people and hundreds of families, with parents having to make alternative arrangements for the day.
“As the neighbourhood officer for the Glen Road area, I know how busy that road is when schools are starting and finishing.
“I regularly work with the schools and local residents, and I’ve gotten to know some children that attend both schools. My first thoughts immediately after this incident, were about the impact on the many children, their parents and residents who were in the area at the time who may have seen or heard this appalling crime,” said a police spokesperson.
“I’ve spoken with some people locally, who have told me that some of the schoolchildren initially thought this was an ‘active shooter’ incident – where their school was under attack.
“It is entirely possible that we could have had a seriously injured or dead child or children as a result of this terrible act.
the community of West Belfast does not want this on their streets and do not support you!
“Imagine for a minute how you’d feel if your son or daughter were caught up in the middle of this. I haven’t stopped thinking about it.”
A team of detectives are working with policing teams on the case.
However the message is loud and clear, say police – the community of West Belfast does not want this on their streets and do not support you!
The police spokesperson said he wanted to thank all the people, school staff and youth workers who all came together under pressure to keep people safe, and to usher children away as quickly as possible.
“So today, I share your anger. I share your disgust. Our work will continue. We are on duty 24/7 and are proud to support the west Belfast community.
“We also appreciate that the road closure had a big local impact- the Glen Road has now reopened. Thank you for your patience as we do all we can to fully investigate this murder,” added the police spokesperson.
If you have any information, call 101. Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, which is 100% anonymous.