The senior detective leading the investigation into the murder of Lyra McKee has revealed that since her death more than 140 people have contacted police with information.
Miss McKee, 29, died as a result of injuries sustained when she was shot on Derry’s Creggan estate on April 18.
Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy said the investigation to find her killer is continuing at a “rapid pace”.
Mr Murphy said: “We’ve had a massive public positive response to the investigation since Thursday evening.
“This was an attack on the community. Lyra, tragically, was a random victim and I need the public to continue to support us.
“Many witnesses have contacted us to give us information that has been provided to them. More than 140 people have contacted us via our MIPP with messages, including mobile phone footage.
“House-to house enquiries are continuing, and all of that is to be welcomed.”
He added: “My appeal today to witnesses who haven’t come forward to us is simple. Please, come forward and have a conversation with me. Come and talk to me.
“I want to reassure people that you don’t have to commit to anything today. I just need to speak to people to understand what they know.
“We can then look at how we capture that information in the best way possible to protect those witnesses and enable me to bring the gunman who killed Lyra McKee to justice.”
The appeal came after friends of the journalist protested by defacing an office belonging to a dissident republican group by putting red handprints on the walls of its headquarters in Derry.
A number of Miss McKee’s friends walked to Junior McDaid House in Derry, where they used a pot of red paint to place handprints on the side of the office walls.
A group of some six men, understood to be members of republican group Saoradh, who are associated with the New IRA, stood outside the building during the protest.
PSNI officers were also present and later asked for the names of those involved in the incident.
The dissident republican New IRA is being blamed for shooting Miss McKee.
The gunman was aiming at police during disturbances in the Creggan when he hit the 29-year-old.
Her killing has been widely condemned across the political spectrum.
Lyra’s friend Sinead Quinn, who took part on Monday’s protest, said: “We have used red paint because they have blood on their hands for what has happened.
“They have encouraged it, they have moulded these young people into what they are and they are standing behind them handing them guns.
“They need to take responsibility today for what has happened.
“They have shirked it so far by saying it was an accidental shooting. You don’t shoot accidentally.”
She added: “When you put a gun into someone’s hand and they shoot it, that’s murder.
“Lyra deserves more and I am so glad there are so many people here today to see and watch these men looking at us.
“They are not a representation of republican people in this town.
“Those people don’t represent (republicanism). Nobody can advocate shooting into a crowd of people and shooting a 29-year-old woman dead.
“People have been afraid to stand up to people like this, we are not afraid.”
The group of friends have pledged to do more in Lyra’s memory.
“Lyra’s McKee’s name will never be forgotten in this town,” Ms Quinn added.
“We have to do it for her.”
The protest comes as up to 200 members and supporters of Saoradh took part in an Easter Monday commemoration march in west Belfast.
A similar march that was to be held in Derry on Monday was called off following the murder of Miss McKee.
The group’s national chairman Brian Kenna called for the New IRA to apologise for the murder during a speech he delivered at Milltown Cemetery.
Mr Murphy said: “We have sought as an investigation team since Thursday to be extremely sensitive in terms of how we are conducting this investigation for the community of Creggan.
“I know there are people in the community who have information but feel they can’t come forward to us, who feel scared.
“We have sought prosecutorial advice from the Public Prosecution Service, and I want to reassure you that we will work with you sensitively and give you all the support we can.
“If you have information, no matter how small, please contact detectives in the incident room on 101 or via the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111 which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime.”
- Press Association