Funeral service stormed by men wielding knives, hatchet in Strabane

Funeral service stormed by men wielding knives, hatchet in Strabane

THREE MEN have been arrested in Strabane, Northern Ireland, for storming a church funeral service armed with knives and a hatchet.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) today confirmed that two males, aged 17 and 32, have been arrested following the incident, but reassured citizens that there was no gun violence involved as rumours swirled on social media.

The statement was later updated to state that a third man, aged 22, has also been arrested.

Video footage from a livestream of inside the church showed a woman on the altar reading a tribute to the deceased when a loud bang was heard.

Mourners leapt to their feet and began to flee and panic, and a heavy police presence was reported by witnesses outside the church, leading people to believe the loud bang heard on the video was that of gunshots.

A police statement issued following the 'disturbance' said:

"Two males 32 and 17 have been arrested following a disturbance at a funeral in Strabane this morning.

"No serious injuries were reported. A number of weapons including Stanley knives and a hatchet were seized.

"We are aware of suggestions online that shots had been fired at the church on the Melmount Road however there was a proactive police operation in place at the location and no evidence of shots having been fired were noted."

A further update from the PSNI confirmed that a thrid person was arrested.

District Commander Chief Superintendant Emma Bond said:

"A significant policing operation was in place this morning in the Melmount Road area to prevent disorder and keep people safe.

"A disturbance did break out within the church however it was quickly addressed.

"A number of dangerous weapons were seized and we are thankful to have been able to remove these items from the streets.

"We are aware of tensions between individuals who were in attendance at the funeral and I am appealing to anyone with influence to help bring about a calm resolution to the current issues."

Reports indicate the funeral and burial went ahead as planned following the disruption.