At least one stray bullet fired during the paramilitary murder of Geordie Gilmore in Carrickfergus on Monday passed through the door of a nearby house, a senior PSNI officer has said.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Detective Chief Inspector Raymond Murray said the attack on the high-profile loyalist at Pinewood Avenue was a “brutal murder and a reckless use of firearms in a built-up area”.
“At least one of the bullets used in this attack missed and went through the front door of a house,” DCI Murray said.
“We are interested in the movements of anybody or any vehicles in the Pinewood Avenue, Blackthorn Park and Cherry Walk areas in Carrickfergus yesterday, not just at the time of the murder at 2.15pm but from around 1.15pm onwards.
“The victim, George Gilmore, was driving a white Vauxhall Insignia, registration YLZ 2220. We’re interested in any sightings of that vehicle or any suspicious activity anywhere near that vehicle.
“At the moment a link to loyalist paramilitaries, the South East Antrim element of the UDA, is a very strong line of inquiry.”
Police have not made any arrests and the senior officer said possible retaliation by associates of Mr Gilmore was of concern to the PSNI.
The murder attempt is being linked to a long-running paramilitary feud in the area.
A serious assault on a doorman at the Royal Oak bar in the town on Saturday night has also been linked to the feud involving members of the local UDA and a rival group.
DCI Murray said: “I think we have all lived long enough in Northern Ireland to know the landscape ... and retaliation is a possibility. However, the police are working hard in order to prevent that happening.
“Again I have to come back to this: we believe there are potentially two gunmen involved here who may have exited down an alleyway in close proximity to Pinewood Avenue in order to carry out the attack. They may well have made off on foot and may have been wearing dark clothing.
“Anybody who has any information in relation to those people, if anybody was there who saw anything, I would ask them to come forward to the police.”
Mr Murray added: “Let’s go back to the core facts: a man has been shot dead; people are at large, firearms have been used and a paramilitary influence has been suspected.”