Girl, 8, escapes RAAD shooting

Published Wednesday, 04 April 2012
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An eight-year-old girl narrowly escaped injury when a man was shot in front of her by the vigilante group Republican Action Against Drugs, at her family's home in Strabane.

Girl, 8, escapes RAAD shooting
The scene of the attack in Strabane, Co Tyrone. (© UTV)

The little girl was inside the house in Carlon Drive in the Ballycolman Estate when the masked gang broke in shortly before 10.30pm on Tuesday.

Their target was a 26-year-old man - but the presence of the youngster did not prevent the gang from brutally beating and shooting their victim in the living room in front of the girl and her mother.

"One man pulled out an iron bar and went to strike him on the head with it," local community worker Andy Gallagher told UTV.

"He blocked it with his arm but got hit on the nose. Then they dragged him to the floor and produced a gun and shot him in one of the knees.

They seem to target people in working class areas and they have achieved absolutely nothing, nothing that can move forward and stop antisocial behaviour.

Andy Gallagher, community worker

"They went to shoot him in the other knee but the gun failed to go off."

The man is being treated in hospital for injuries which are not believed to be life-threatening. It is understood his girlfriend and child have been left severely traumatised by their ordeal.

Police said the gunmen fled in a red car. A short distance away on the outskirts of the town a car was found burnt out - detectives believe it was used in the attack.

Cordons were erected as officers searched the area where the car was found for evidence.

It is believed the gang had tape masks over their faces and wore plastic coverings on their feet, in what seems to be an effort to reduce the amount of forensic evidence left behind.

Area Commander Chief Inspector Andy Lemon said: "No right thinking individual can condone someone taking the law into their own hands irrespective of what the perceived motive here was.

"Nothing justifies shooting a young man in his home whilst his girlfriend and young daughter are present and I would condemn such violence."

People living in the area suspected the attack bore all the hallmarks of RAAD - and the grouping later admitted responsibility to a local paper.

"It is shocking to know incidents like this continue to happen," Mr Gallagher continued. "This is not the way to deal with it."

SDLP Strabane Councillor Patsy Kelly has condemned those responsible for what he has described as "a punishment-type shooting."

Cllr Kelly said: "This is an appalling attack on a man in his family home in front of his girlfriend and young child.

"No child should ever be subjected to this type of violence and I hope that she is given help to try and recover from this traumatic experience."

Ross Hussey, West Tyrone UUP MLA, said there was no justification for the attack.

He added: "This type of activity was part of Northern Ireland's past, and the people of Strabane and the rest of West Tyrone want it left there."

Police said someone could easily have been killed by the gunmen. They have appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

© UTV News
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