Police in Northern Ireland were today hunting for the killers of a 26-year-old Catholic man in a loyalist housing estate in Co Derry.
Loyalist paramilitaries were being blamed for the murder of John Henry McCormack who was gunned down in his Loughanhill Park home in Coleraine’s Ballysally estate at around 10.30pm on Saturday.
Mr McCormack’s partner and four young children were at home at the time. He died not long afterwards in hospital.
At this stage the Royal Ulster Constabulary is reluctant to state a motive for the shooting as the force is still pursuing a number of lines of inquiry.
It is understood the gunmen were wearing boiler suits and entered the rear of Mr McCormack’s house.
One remained at the back, while his colleague fired several shots at the victim at the front of the house.
The gunmen made their getaway in a silver Renault 11 car, which was later found abandoned and on fire not far away in Dundooan Road.
Chief Insp Nigel Kyle said: ‘‘Everyone must condemn the action of those people involved who broke into the house containing four children to carry out this despicable deed.
‘‘What is desperately needed now is partnership approach from people in the community to help bring those behind the killing to justice.
‘‘Every piece of information is crucial in the hunt for the killers.’’
Chief Insp Kyle said they were especially anxious to hear from people on the Ballysally estate who may have witnessed the attackers fleeing Mr McCormack’s house at high speed in the silver car or from those who may have seen them possibly switching vehicles in Dundooan Road.
Mr McCormack’s home had been targeted in a pipe bomb attack on June 3.
Unionist and nationalist politicians in Coleraine have condemned the attack.
SDLP Assembly member John Dallat, Coleraine’s first ever nationalist mayor, said it was a ‘‘morally reprehensible’’ act.
Democratic Unionist MP and Assembly member for the area, Gregory Campbell also urged the community to rally behind the RUC’s efforts to find the killers.
The Stormont Regional Development Minister said: ‘‘No cause can be served by the taking of a human life and this murder, like each and every other murder, has to be condemned totally and absolutely.’’
Ulster Unionist MLA David McClarty was also appalled.
‘‘The people of Coleraine do not want this. This is a community which tries to work together for the good of everyone.’’