New IRA are ‘primary focus’ for police investigating ‘vile’ attempted murder of senior police officer

New IRA are ‘primary focus’ for police investigating ‘vile’ attempted murder of senior police officer

DETECTIVES investigating the attempted murder of a senior police officer in Northern Ireland have confirmed the New IRA dissident group is their “primary focus”.

Officers from the PSNI’s Police Service Major Investigation Team are questioning six suspects over the attempted murder of Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell last week.

The off-duty police officer was shot a number of times by two gunmen shortly after 8pm on Wednesday, February 22, at a sports complex on Killyclogher Road in Omagh.

The attack happened while his young son was with him.

Det Chf Insp Caldwell remains in a critical but stable condition in hospital.

Three men aged 38, 45 and 47 were arrested under the Terrorism Act in Omagh and Coalisland on Thursday, February 23.

A 22-year-old man and a 43-year-old man were arrested the following day, while on Saturday, February 25 a 71-year-old man was arrested in Omagh.

In a call out for information today, PSNI Assistant Chief Constable for Crime, Mark McEwan said: “I would appeal to anyone with information to bring it to police.

“Our main line of enquiry is that violent dissident republicans carried out this vile attack and within that a primary focus is on the New IRA.”

Regarding his colleague, Mr McEwan said: “John is a highly respected senior investigating officer who dedicates himself to the service of others, both as police officer and as an active member of the Omagh community.
“The attack on John, when he was accompanied by his young son, shows the absolute callousness of those responsible.”

He added: “It is utterly disgusting that the gunmen carried out this attempted murder in front of crowds of adults and children.

“The shots, fired from close range in a busy sports training area, could quite easily have killed or seriously injured anyone present at the time of the shooting.

“We recognise the huge shock and trauma this attack has caused in the community in Omagh. I know this is not what they want to see happening in their town.”

Detectives want to hear from anyone who was in the area or who witnessed the attack and may have captured dash-cam or mobile footage.

Anyone with information can phone 101 or contact independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Information, including photos, CCTV and dash-cam footage, can also be provided to police through the Major Incident Public Portal at