PSNI officer ‘critical but stable’ after being shot while coaching soccer in Omagh

Police are searching for two suspects after shooting during football coaching session

An off-duty police officer is in a “critical but stable” condition after being shot while coaching at a sports complex in Omagh, Co Tyrone

Security sources said the off-duty officer was shot a number of times. The victim is understood to be a senior inspector.

PSNI chief constable Simon Byrne said the police officer was in a critical but stable condition.

Mr Byrne said: “I am shocked and saddened by tonight’s events in Omagh.


“The officer is in a critical but stable condition in hospital. My thoughts are with him, his family and his colleagues.

“We will relentlessly pursue those responsible. They have nothing to offer the community.”

The senior officer was shot at Youth Sport Omagh while football coaching was going on at the grounds. Initial indications are police are searching for two suspects who were dressed in black.

The PSNI said police were at the scene of the shooting in the Killyclogher Road area of Omagh.

“One man, a serving police officer, has been taken to hospital for treatment after being injured in a shooting incident at a sports complex just before 8pm this evening,” they said.

“More details will be issued when available.”

Gardaí confirmed they are working with the PSNI following the shooting.

In a statement, the Garda said it is “currently responding to an ongoing incident which took place earlier this evening in Northern Ireland.

“We are working closely in cooperation with our counterparts in the PSNI.”

Liam Kelly, chair of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, which represents rank and file officers, branded as “barbaric and cold-blooded” the gun attack in Omagh that has left an officer fighting for his life. “It’s understood two gunmen were involved in the attack. The injured officer was shot a number of times whilst he coached young persons playing football,” he said. “This was a callous, cold-blooded and barbaric attempted murder on an off-duty officer.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in a statement said he had heard the “terrible news from Omagh about the shooting of an off duty PSNI officer tonight”.

He added: “Our thoughts are with the injured officer, his family, colleagues and friends at this difficult time.”

Mr Varadkar said “I utterly condemn this grotesque act of attempted murder. I call on anyone with information about it to share it with the PSNI.”

British prime minister Rishi Sunak said he was appalled by the “disgraceful shooting of an off-duty police officer in Omagh”.

“My thoughts are with the officer and his family,” he said. “There is no place in our society for those who seek to harm public servants protecting communities.”

Ulster Unionist Party MLA Tom Elliott has indicated that the senior officer was shot in front of young people at a football coaching session.

“Despicable, cowardly action. No place in society for this,” he tweeted.

The SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood, said it was a “chilling attack on an individual serving his community.”

Reflecting the suspicion the attack was carried out by dissident republicans, he said those behind the attack were “committed to the fallacy that they are at war with the British establishment” but it was “not with the British Government or the PSNI.

“Their fight is with the people of Ireland who have chosen peace,” he said, “and it is a fight that they will never, never win.”

He said that the attack had taken place in “Omagh, a place that bears the scars of violence more than many others but where people have shown immense strength, compassion and grace, must make this a powerful moment of reflection for all of us.”

He said his thoughts remained with “an officer who was serving his community and hope that he makes a recovery.”

Sinn Féin vice president Michelle O’Neill said it was an “outrageous and shameful attack” and her “immediate thoughts are with the officer and his family.

“I unreservedly condemn this reprehensible attempt to murder a police officer.”

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson said it was “terrible news” and his “heart goes out to the family of this courageous police officer and to his colleagues.

“We condemn outright the cowards responsible for this,” he said.

“These terrorists have nothing to offer and they must be brought to justice.”

The Alliance deputy leader, Stephen Farry, said it was a “despicable and cowardly act” and his thoughts were “with the officer and his family at this difficult time, and indeed the wider Police Service NI family.

“We all stand in solidarity with those who keep the community safe and uphold the law,” he said.

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service said it received a 999 call at 8.02pm following reports of an incident in the Slievard area of Killyclogher.

“NIAS dispatched a Rapid Response Paramedician Emergency Crew and an ambulance officer to the incident,” a spokesperson said.

“Following assessment and initial treatment at the scene, one patient was taken by ambulance to Altnagelvin Area Hospital.” - Additional reporting PA

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime and Security Correspondent of The Irish Times

Freya McClements

Freya McClements

Freya McClements is Northern Editor of The Irish Times