Off-duty PSNI detective shot by dissident republicans discharged from hospital after two months

John Caldwell shot multiple times in front of his son at Omagh sports complex in February

The senior off-duty police officer shot in Omagh by dissident republicans two months ago has been discharged from hospital.

Det chief inspector John Caldwell was targeted outside a sports complex in the Co Tyrone town on February 22nd, when he was shot multiple times in front of his son as he was putting footballs into the boot of his car.

The 48-year-old suffered life-changing injuries in the attack and was transferred to Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry, where he remained critically ill.

In a statement issued on Thursday evening, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) confirmed that he had been discharged today “to continue his recovery. We would ask that John and his family are given privacy at this time”.


One of the North’s most high profile police officers, DCI Caldwell was coaching the Under-15 Beragh Swifts soccer team at the Omagh Youth Sport complex before being shot in the car park. Many teenagers witnessed the attack.

The New IRA remain the main line of inquiry in the PSNI investigation. To date, a total of 15 people have been detained but no charges have been brought.

Police have previously said they were “working relentlessly to bring those responsible to justice”.

Sunak meeting

The shooting was widely condemned by politicians who came together in a show of unity during a period of Stormont collapse. In the days following the shooting, PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne confirmed that Garda Commissioner Drew Harris had given a “complete assurance” that he “stands strongly with us” in investigating the attempted murder. Border patrols were stepped up by the Garda to assist the PSNI probe.

More than 1,000 people also took part in a walk and public rally in Omagh to show support for Mr Caldwell, who was well known in the town for his cross-community work through sport.

It emerged on Wednesday that UK prime minister Rishi Sunak visited Mr Caldwell in hospital last week.

Speaking at a dinner at Hillsborough Castle to mark the 25th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement, Mr Sunak said Mr Caldwell told him that Northern Ireland cannot go back to its violent past.

“We sat together and talked about the society he loves and about his ordeal. He told me, ‘We can’t go back’,” Mr Sunak said.

“We can’t go back. If there is one message from this hall tonight, one message from the people of Northern Ireland to the world, it is surely this: we will never go back.”

DCI Caldwell has been a member of the PSNI for 26 years. He worked on a number of murder investigations, including the killing of Co Armagh woman Natalie McNally in December, and the murder of PSNI constable Ronan Kerr by dissident republicans in Omagh in 2011.

Seanín Graham

Seanín Graham

Seanín Graham is Northern Correspondent of The Irish Times