Police have described the murder of a local man in broad daylight in a quiet Co Down village as “absolutely brutal and barbaric”.
Father-of-three Malcolm McKeown, 54, was shot up to six times at close range in broad daylight on Monday evening in Waringstown.
Asked to describe the murder, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Montgomery, who is leading the investigation, said: “Absolutely brutal and barbaric. To carry this out in broad daylight and to subject two teenage boys to have to witness this and come across a body that has been shot six times is just totally unacceptable.”
His body was found slumped in his parked car at the side of Dewart’s Garage in Waringstown around 9pm with gunshot wounds to his head and body. However, police believe he was murdered earlier in the evening at around 7.15pm.
Mr Montgomery said he was looking at organised crime as a potential motive. Two men, aged 30 and 28, have been arrested by police investigating the murder.
The police officer added: “Two young teenagers discovered Mr McKeown’s body – something that no child should witness and I’ve no doubt they’ve been left traumatised by this. It’s simply unacceptable.”
When asked, he said that paramilitary involvement is not a major line of enquiry at this time.
CCTV footage shows Mr McKeown entering the shop at Dewart’s Garage at approximately 7.15pm on Monday and then walking back to his car four minutes later.
“It was around this time I believe that the gunman or gunmen shot him,” Mr Montgomery told a press conference on Wednesday.
He appealed for anyone who was in the garage or on the village Main Street at the time of the shooting to come forward.
The gunman or men were driving a dark blue or black VW Passat, registration RK62 PLX, which was seen at 6.20pm in Cambrai Heights before the shooting and later captured on CCTV near the garage, he said.
“I believe the gunman or men may have got out of this car, walked around the back of Dewart’s to shoot Malcolm McKeown, before fleeing and leaving Cambrai Heights in the car at 7.20pm.”
He appealed for anyone who saw the car leaving Cambrai Heights and then travelling along the Dunkirk Road towards Summerhill Road at 7.20pm to contact him - especially if they have dashcam footage.
Similarly, he asked for anyone living in Cambrai Heights or the adjoining streets who have private CCTV to let him know.
This car was found burnt out on the Glenavon Lane in Lurgan just after 7.30pm. He appealed for anyone who saw the occupants get out and flee to get in touch.
“My investigation is at an early stage and I’m keeping an open mind as to the motive for the murder, however a strong line of enquiry is organised crime.”
The DCI said all information would be treated in the strictest of confidence and that witnesses would be given anonymity, with their names only revealed to the Public Prosecution Service.
Mr McKeown was implicated in the murder of Jacqueline and Hugh McGeough in Craigavon in 2011 but charges were later dropped. Two of his brothers served time for sectarian murders.