‘Cowardly’ drug dealers blamed for gun attack on Derry family

Police are investigating the shooting incident in the Waterside.
Police are investigating the shooting incident in the Waterside.

A Derry man believes “cowardly” drug dealers were behind a gun attack in which both he and his son were shot at this week.

Anti-drugs campaigner Gerald Deehan escaped injury but his son received a gunshot wound to the foot after masked and armed men entered their home at Margaret Street in the Waterside at around 8.45 p.m. on Tuesday evening.

One of the masked men, armed with what has been described as a handgun, shot at Mr Deehan as he stood in the kitchen. However, he wasn’t physically injured.

However, his 30-year-old son was also shot at and sustained an injury to his foot which required medical treatment in hospital.

Police are treating the incident as attempted murder, branding the attack “merciless and brutal”.

Gerald Deehan, a father of six, is convinced his family was targeted because of his anti-drugs stance.

Mr Deehan (58) has been speaking out about the extent of the city’s drugs problem since his daughter’s death earlier this year. Amanda Deehan, a 34 year-old mother of two, died in January after she was given a fake or street version of Xanax - an anxiety and panic disorder medication.

According to Gerald Deehan, Derry is “awash” with fake drugs and their use has reached “epidemic levels”.

Earlier this year, he told the ‘Journal’ the drugs were available from local dealers for as little as £1 a pill.

He added: “I want to get the word out there into the community that these type of drugs are available and they’re killing people - particularly young ones. It really is the case that one pill can kill.”

Gerald Deehan is in no doubt that his anti-drugs attitude is the reason his home and family were targeted this week.

He told the ‘Journal’: “If this cowardly attack was an attempt to get me to shut up about the scourge of illegal drugs in Derry, then it didn’t work. I will continue to speak out about the dangers of fake drugs in Derry. I speak out because I don’t want any more young people to die because of drugs. If this annoys certain people, then that is their problem.”

Police say they are working to establish a motive for Tuesday’s attack.

“It is only by sheer luck that we are not dealing with a tragic situation here,” said Detective Inspector Michael Winters. “There were three other occupants in the house at the time of the attack, a woman and two other males, and they have all been left extremely shaken by what took place in their home, somewhere they rightly deserve to feel safe.”

The gunman is described as being of medium to heavy build and he had his face covered while the second suspect is described as being of a thinner build. Police say both suspects made off from the scene, possibly in a car.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact detectives at Strand Road PSNI on 101, quoting reference number: 1838 08/10/19.