Police in Northern Ireland are investigating what they believe to be a claim of responsibility by the New Irish Republican Army (IRA) in the attempted murder of off-duty inspector John Caldwell.
Caldwell, Chief Detective Inspector (DCI) for the Police Department of Northern Ireland (PSNI), was shot dead in front of his teenage son on February 22 at a sports facility in Omagh, County Tyrone.
In an update Monday, PSNI Chief Detective Superintendent Eamonn Corrigan said Caldwell’s condition remains critical but stable.
Police have previously said the main focus of the investigation was that the attacks were carried out by “violent dissident Republicans” and that “the main focus…is on the new IRA.”
On Sunday night, a typed message appeared on a wall in Londonderry claiming responsibility for Caldwell’s attempted murder.
It was signed by “T O’Neill”. This is a name previously used by dissident terrorist groups.
“The Irish Republican Army claims responsibility for a military operation that targeted John Caldwell, a senior member of Crown Force,” the message reads.
“The IRA’s active duty force, supported by other armed volunteers, was in a position to target the enemy within our chosen kill zone. All volunteers returned safely to base.”
The message threatened officers by saying that the IRA had “security information on the out-of-bounds movement of Crown Force personnel.”
“We will say, you still have to try to live a normal life. Lately an IRA awaits. T O’Neill,” it reads.
Deputy Constable Mark McEwan said on Monday that officers were aware of the message and were “currently reviewing its content as part of an overall investigation.”
“On Friday, we confirmed that we were treating the attempted murder of DCI John Caldwell as terrorism-related, and the primary focus of our investigation was the New IRA,” he added.
Formerly known as the Real IRA, the group continues to be called the Irish Republican Army, but has been dubbed the New IRA by the media after absorbing other smaller radical Republican groups in 2012. .
Claims the right to ‘armed struggle’ to achieve Irish independence
The IRA is a terrorist group banned in the UK. According to the Irish government, Ireland’s anti-terrorism laws have been used primarily to counter all indications brought by the IRA.
Fire 10 or more shots
Caldwell was loading footballs into the trunk of his car with his young son when two masked men approached the sports complex’s parking lot and opened fire.
When he had just finished coaching the under-15 football team, the attack took place in front of shocked parents and children.
Corrigan said on Monday that police “believe that at least 10 shots were fired at close range in a busy sports training area.”
“It shows the utterly reckless nature of this attack and the callous disregard of the shooter for the children and adults present at the time of the shooting.”
Corrigan said the PSNI has so far conducted 12 raids in Omagh and surrounding areas, arrested six men between the ages of 22 and 71, and remains in custody for questioning.
Police also released CCTV footage of an aa blue Ford Fiesta that was purchased on February 8 and had fake plates installed prior to the attack.
“Our surveillance camera footage shows the car exiting the sports complex and turning left into Killykroger Road shortly after the shooting. and found that they had abandoned the car there and set it on fire,” Corrigan sued for information about the car.
On Friday, the leaders of five of Northern Ireland’s main political parties – Sinn Fein, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the Alliance Party, the Ulster Unionist Party and the Social Democratic Labor Party – stood beside the region’s police chief in an act of solidarity.” condemning the shooting in.
Sinn Fein’s Stormt leader Michelle O’Neill stressed the importance of unity, saying the attack was an “attack on all of us” and an “attack on our community”. .
DUP leader Sir Geoffrey Donaldson told those who carried out the attack, “You are not the future of this place.
Patricia Devlin and PA Media contributed to this report.