Horror at the school gate…

A man was gunned down and killed in the community where I live yesterday. He was in a parked car outside his son’s school on the Glen Road at hometime, waiting to give his son a lift. While he did so a man walked up to his car and shot him 5 or 6 times. He died immediately.

To put this horror in context you’d need to know the area where this murder took place. That part of the Glen Road has two big secondary schools sitting opposite each other. There are hundreds of children who go there and who were leaving the schools at the time. There is a primary school 400 yards down the road and children would have been walking up the road from their after-schools clubs.

Add to this the fact that the road is a main route home for children from another three or four schools in West Belfast and you’ll get the idea that there were hundreds of children and thier parents in the vicinity at the time of this killing. Many of them witnessed the events.

My cousin’s son was coming out of school and saw the crowd gathered around the dead man after the gunman had done his dirty work. All these children are no doubt left with terrible images and memories in their young minds.

The victim had a wife and two young sons. He had an extended family. I can’t begin to imagine how they feel. Devastated would only be the beginning.

And yet, on social media, within minutes of the shooting multiple people were condoning the shooting, excusing the shooting and detailing what they ‘knew’ about the activities of the victim that led to the shooting. I found the commenting repulsive on many levels.

To laugh at the killing of another human being is something that most people would never do. However, what is it about the anonymity of social media that brings out this horrible behaviour in us?

Giving details about his alleged activities and actually naming the victim (maybe before his family were all informed) is scandalous. If they had such information, what did the people who claimed to know all this information do with it? Did they go the authorities? If not, they have scant right to comment and less right to use the information as a way to excuse murder.

The reality is that the actions of the gunman yesterday were of the most heinous kind. Heartlessly and cruelly taking the life of another person in the midst of children and parents going about their everyday routine is almost beyond comprehension.

Someone died today. He died in the most brutal and violent way. Nothing can justify it. Nothing. And once again, we in Belfast are faced with questions: we’re better than this, aren’t we? Do we want armed gangs ruling the streets with their version of wild west justice?

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