Police surrounded Moss Park in Galliagh this morning as a bomb disposal robot and, later, forensic officers examined a suspected arms find in a silver parked car.
It is understood that today’s Moss Park incident, and similar operations in Fern Park and Ederowen Park, are connected to the murder investigation into local man Barry McCrory, who was shot dead in Shipquay Street last Thursday and who also, coincidentally, grew up in the Moss Park area. Police had earlier apprehended the man wanted in connection with the murder, 58 year-old Kieran McLaughlin.
Residents spoke of their shock at being woken by PSNI officers at 4am and told to evacuate to the nearby Templemore Sports Complex while the area was sealed off. The majority of neighbours did evacuate as instructed.
One Moss Park pensioner, who didn’t wish to be named, decided to stay indoors as forensic officers dressed in white suits proceeded to strip down the suspect car outside.
“Police woke us up in the middle of the night, banging on the door. They told us to either evacuate or to go to the back of the house, so I decided to stay where I was and stay at the back,” she said.
“It’s been crazy around here all morning, the police are everywhere and cordons right outside my door here. My neighbour is an 88 year-old woman and I wonder if she is alright in there.”
Another resident was unable to work this morning because his work vehicle was parked within the cordon and surrounded by security personnel.
“I had to ring my work and tell them I was literally hemmed in here,” he said.
One young mother who lives yards from the suspect vehicle stood watching events unfold as her children sat in a car, sheltering from the rain.
“We were all evacuated about 4.15am this morning and told to go to the Sports Complex,” she told the ‘Journal’.
“We need to get back into our house but they won’t let us. We’re waiting on confirmation on when we can go back in because I need medication for myself and for the children. It’s a nightmare, a complete nightmare.”
Galliagh residents also spoke of the late-night activity which disturbed the community.
“There was a helicopter out first, but it must have went to refuel because then they brought out a spotter plane and the noise was deafeningly loud for that time of night. It was unreal,” one woman told the ‘Journal’..
According to police reports, the man wanted in connection with McGrory’s murder, Kieran McLaughlin, was found hiding behind a car in Fern Park just after 3am this morning, Wednesday.
Police say McLaughlin was armed when arrested but that no shots were fired during the incident. He was taken to the PSNI’s Serious Crime Suite at Antrim for questioning.