A man shot repeatedly in Newry may have been murdered as part of cross-border criminal gang drugs feud, police said.
A PSNI superintendent described Thursday’s killing in Co Down as “brutal and senseless”.
The shooting happened in the residential Ardcarn Park area soon after 6pm.
The 58-year-old victim died at the scene.
Superintendent Norman Haslett said: “The subject of a cross-border organised crime group feud is something that the detectives will be looking at as a line of investigation.”
He said a possible drugs link formed one line of inquiry.
Mr Haslett said: “This was a brutal and a senseless attack on a defenceless man.
“We believe those responsible went to great lengths to plan this attack.
“They lay in wait for their victim to come home and they essentially ambushed him and executed him.
“The victim was a husband, he was a father and he was a son.
“He was shot multiple times at close range.”
The officer continued: “The level of violence used was reprehensible, particularly given the time of day – teatime on a weeknight, in a busy built-up residential area with people coming home from work, children and families going about their business on the run-up to Christmas.
“It was beyond reckless and any child or family member or neighbour could easily have been caught up in the gunfire.
“Indeed, after the attack the victim’s car crashed into a nearby property.
“Those responsible have no moral compass and I would condemn their actions in the strongest terms.
“They have left a grieving family in the mouth of Christmas. They have left a community in shock.”
Mr Haslett appealed for anyone who saw anything suspicious to contact detectives.
He added: “This morning, myself and my team have been speaking and listening to the local community.
“We are very much aware of the tangible fear in the community.
“The community don’t deserve to be in this position and I want to reassure the community we are doing everything possible to bring those responsible to justice.
“I would also like to reassure the community that I will be stepping up the police presence in the area over the next days or week.
“I would like to appeal for calm; the last thing anyone would like to see is retribution.”
Sinn Féin MLA for Newry and Armagh, Liz Kimmins, described the killing as “very brutal”.
“The community have been left totally shocked,” she said.
“We totally condemn this incident. A family have been left grieving here.”
She described the local community as “very proud and strong”.
“We do not want to see this criminality on our streets and it is no reflection of the community in the area,” she added.