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Dad shot dead in Sainsbury's car park while holding three-year-old son in arms named as James Colin Horner

Mirror logo Mirror 2017-05-29 Jilly Beattie

© Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited The dad shot dead in a busy Sainsbury's car park while holding his son in his arms this afternoon has been named locally as James Colin Horner.

Mr Horner, 35, begged for his life before the gunman opened fire at point black range.

He had put one hand up to protect the child but was blasted six times in the lower body in the horror attack in Bangor, Co Down shortly before 3pm, BelfastLive reports.

As the gunshots rang out, Mr Horner and the toddler fell to the ground before the gunman walked away and mingled with members of the public who were carrying groceries, paint and wallpaper to their cars.

His face was not masked.

A car believed to have been used by the killer and a get-away driver was later found burned out.

© Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited It has sped from the scene past the town’s municipal dump before being abandoned.

Police believe Mr Horner, known as Colin, was targeted as part of the loyalist paramilitary feud involving the UDA in East Antrim.

It is understood the victim had moved from Carrickfergus to Bangor in the last 12 months and had been a vocal supporter of Geordie Gilmore Snr who was murdered last March.

The young dad, who had been living in Rathgill, was shot six times in the lower body.

He suffered five bullet wounds to his legs and thighs and one fatal bullet wound to his groin. His son was physically uninjured as he fell to the ground and is being cared for by family and medical experts.

PSNI Superintendent Brian Kee, District Commander Ards and North Down District said: “Our thoughts are very much with the family of the victim at this extremely difficult time and I condemn this brutal, senseless and horrendous killing.

“This cold blooded murder was carried out in broad daylight in front of families who were out enjoying this Bank Holiday weekend.

“The recklessness of this murder is all too evident. It is beyond belief that the gunman shot the victim when he was out with his son.

"This young boy witnessed everything and he will undoubtedly carry that memory for the rest of his life. We are very lucky that we are not also dealing with the death of this child today.

Credits: © Photopress Belfast © All moral and intellectual rights retained © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: © Photopress Belfast © All moral and intellectual rights retained “The gunman also showed total disregard for the safety of the public, including other children, who were in the carpark at the time of the attack.

“There is no place for such activity in our society or in the community of Bangor. I know that a large number of people were in the vicinity of the carpark when this incident occurred and I would appeal to them to get in touch with the investigation team.

"We are keen to gather as much information as possible about the circumstances that occurred earlier this afternoon.

“The murder investigation is being taken forward by detectives and will be progressed over the coming days and weeks.

Credits: © Photopress Belfast © All moral and intellectual rights retained © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: © Photopress Belfast © All moral and intellectual rights retained "At the centre of all of this we have a grieving family and local residents coming to terms with a brutal shooting in the heart of their community.

“Local police, who will be supported by specialist colleagues, will continue to maintain a presence in the area to provide reassurance to residents.

"We all have a part to play to ensure that the community in Bangor has the time to come to terms with what has happened here and to ensure that those responsible for this murder are brought to justice.

Credits: © Photopress Belfast © All moral and intellectual rights retained © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: © Photopress Belfast © All moral and intellectual rights retained “I would appeal to anyone who has any information, no matter how insignificant they may think it is, to contact Detectives on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference 870 28/05/17. Alternatively, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

A woman who was walking past at the time of the fatal shooting was uninjured but sprayed with blood from the victim.

One source said: “He was sitting in the car in the sunshine, wearing shorts with the door open but got right out when the gunman approached.

© Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited “He put his hands up in front of his chest and spoke to the man with the gun.

“The gunman was not wearing a balaclava or hiding his face in any way.

“He shot five or six times and walked away. There was no panic on his behalf. This was the sort of hit you’d see in a movie, cool, calm and calculated.”

An other source said there was initial confusion about the noise following the shooting until it was realised that there was a child crying.

The shooting victim was treated for injuries on the ground beside his car.

© Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited

Paramedics based at the nearby fire station on Newtownards Rd, Bangor, were on the scene within minutes and gave CPR to the shooting victim for 43 minutes.

Staff from Homebase erected wooden barriers to shield the scene from the public.

The shooting victim was placed in an ambulance where paramedics continued to work on him for an other 12 minutes.

Then police escorted the ambulance to the Ulster Hospital, Dundonald where he was pronounced dead.

A source said: “The ambulance left with no lights and no siren and was escorted by a police car with only their blue lights flashing. There was no rush, no hurry, it seemed it was over.”

Credits: Photopress © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: Photopress Less than four hours after the incident unfolded, a second course confirmed the man had died.

She said: “Despite the best efforts of the paramedics, the victim of this brutal murder has died.”

A PSNI spokeswoman said: “Police can confirm that a 35-year-old man who was shot in a car park in the Balloo Link area of Bangor earlier today, Sunday, 28 May, has died from his injuries.”

Detective Superintendent Kevin Geddes from the PSNI’s Serious Crime Branch, said: “Detectives have now launched a murder investigation and I would ask anyone who may have witnessed this incident or anyone who has any information to contact detectives.”

It is understood the victim has been a long-term target of the UDA in South East Antrim and has been forced to relocate a year ago.

© Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited He had been a supporter to Geordie Gilmore who was shot dead last March, and a vocal critic of the UDA who he said had forced him from his Carrick home.

A source said: “He had been warned he was a wanted man. These people just wait out the long game until they’re ready and then they strike with deadly effect.

“We believe he’d been followed into the area by a car and the execution carried out. The shooting was brazen and at very close range. This was not an attempt to frighten someone off, this was an attempt to end a life and send a very clear message to his associates past and present.”

Witnesses say they heard six shots shortly after 3 pm as shoppers including families, children and pensioners were walking past just feet away.

One witness said: “I saw the guy lying on the ground with paramedics trying to resuscitate him by doing compression on his chest.

“At that point the police made us leave the area. It’s a shocking situation that something like this can happen in broad daylight when place was packed.”

An other witness said shoppers were evacuated from the store after gunshots rang out only to unwittingly walk into a murder scene.

Credits: © Photopress Belfast © All moral and intellectual rights retained © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: © Photopress Belfast © All moral and intellectual rights retained The shopper, a pensioner from Ballywalter, Co Down, said: “We were evacuated from the shop and told there’d been gunshots. We assumed the shots had been fired inside the building and the evacuation was very calm.

“Everyone just started walking out but we walked right to the trouble, within feet of where the shots had in fact been fire and the victim was lying on the ground. He looked dead. There was a sound of crying but I couldn’t see anyone.

“We were evacuated from the safety of the shop into the car park where a shooter was on the lose having just tried to kill someone. Then the doors were closed behind us and it was up to us to get out of there.

“We were basically being herded towards the scene of the crime. Thankfully the police were there pretty quickly and took control. It was OK at the time but now that we realise what actually happened and the danger we were put in, I feel very shaken and very upset.”

And a Bangor pensioner described the moment she heard five shots ring out in the car park of Sainsbury’s as the victim was targeted by loyalest paramilitaries.

The 77-year-old great-grandmother said: “I was walking out of the shop after buying biscuits and suddenly I heard five loud bangs. It frightened the life out of me but I assumed it was kids playing with firecrackers and I just walked on over to Homebase.

“But about 15 minutes later when I came out the place was in chaos. There were police and ambulances all over the place and there was an awful atmosphere. There was a lot of activity beside the car I’d just walked past to get out of Sainsbury’s and a lady told me that a man had been shot.

“My legs nearly gave way beneath me. I was so close to it and so lucky not to have been shot myself. The man was lying there and people were working on him.

“Staff from Homebase were running towards the scene with big panels of wood and I expect that what they were going to use to shield the man and the public from each other. The whole thing was so distressing.

“How can anyone decide to go into a supermarket car park in the middle of the day when the place is filled with shoppers, workers, children, just people going about their business. Anyone could have been hurt or killed."

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