Northern Ireland

Malcolm McKeown 'shot in cold blood in broad daylight'

Malcolm McKeown
Image caption Malcolm McKeown was found dead in his vehicle behind a petrol station

Police investigating the murder of Malcolm McKeown in Waringstown, County Down, have said the father of three was "shot in cold blood in broad daylight".

The 54-year-old was found dead in his car behind Dewart's service station on Main Street on Monday night.

Det Ch Insp Peter Montgomery said the victim had gone into Dewart's shop at about 19:15 BST and was shot after he came out a few minutes later.

He added police are keeping "an open mind" about the motive for the murder.

Mr McKeown had been due to appear in court on Monday on a charge of aggravated burglary.

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Image caption Police officers revisited the scene of the shooting on Tuesday

The charge against him was connected to an incident in Lisburn, County Antrim, last November in which a householder was allegedly tied up and robbed.

Mr McKeown was remanded on bail and was due to reappear in court in a month's time.

Mr Montgomery said the investigation into his murder was "at an early stage".

The detective appealed to the public for information about the movements of the victim's car and a second vehicle which was found burnt out after the attack.

Mr McKeown's body was discovered in his silver BMW shortly before 21:00 BST on Monday, about an hour and a half after the time at which police believe the shooting took place.

"I know that Mr McKeown entered the shop at Dewart's garage at approximately 7:15pm on Monday and when he came out he walked to his vehicle parked to the side of the garage," said Mr Montgomery.

"It was around this time that the gunman or gunmen shot him."

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Image caption A cordon was put in place while forensic officers examined the murder scene on Tuesday

He appealed to customers who were in the service station between 18:00 and 19:30 BST on Monday to come forward, and to motorists with dashcams who were in the area at the time.

The detective also asked for sightings of Mr McKeown at any stage on Monday, or of his BMW vehicle, registration XEZ 5518.

After the shooting, a blue Volkswagen Passat was found burnt out on Glenavon Road in Lurgan, County Armagh.

Mr Montgomery said that vehicle, registration RK62 PLX, was also seen leaving the scene of the murder.

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Image caption Forensic officers examine a Volkswagen Passat which was burnt out near Lurgan

He appealed to anyone with information about either vehicle to call police or Crimestoppers.

The murder has been widely condemned by political representatives in the area.

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie said he knew the victim, who had attended his constituency office in the past.

"The police need to get on and do their job in respect of this horrible murder," he said.

"Yet again we see guns on our streets and that's not acceptable in any shape or form."

Image caption The shooting happened on Monday night at a service station in Waringstown

DUP MLA Carla Lockhart said it was "shocking" that the shooting had happened in "somewhere like Waringstown".

"It is a generally quiet village with a thriving population," she added.

Sinn Féin MLA John O'Dowd said "people are appalled by what has happened".

SDLP Upper Bann MLA Dolores Kelly said the community was in shock.

"This is a quiet, settled village and people are appalled that violence has been brought on to their streets."

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