Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell shot in front of son, police say

The senior police officer shot in Omagh has been named as Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell as police said the primary focus of the investigation is on dissident republicans.

Mr Caldwell remains in a critical but stable condition in hospital following the attack at a sports complex in Omagh, in Co Tyrone, on Wednesday evening.

He was shot a number of times at the facility by masked men in front of young people he had been coaching.

Mr Caldwell is a high-profile officer who has led a number of major investigations, including taking a leading role in the murder probe following the killing of Natalie McNally in Lurgan in December.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) have launched an attempted murder investigation.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan told BBC Radio Ulster the "primary focus" on the investigation was on "violent dissident republicans".

He said: "The investigation is at an early stage, we are keeping an open mind. There are multiple strands to that investigation.

"The primary focus is on violent dissident republicans and within that there is a primary focus as well on New IRA."

Mr Caldwell was with his young son when the attack occurred.

"Last night at approximately 8 o'clock at the youth sports centre in Killyclogher Road, Omagh, whilst John was putting footballs into the boot of his car, and accompanied by his young son, two gunmen approached and we believe both have fired multiple shots,” Assistant Chief Constable McEwan continued.

"John has ran a short distance and he's fallen to the ground, and as he's on the ground the gunmen have continued to fire at him.

"That shows the absolute callous nature of this attack in a crowded space where there are children and parents in the vicinity, and we saw many of those young people and children running in sheer terror to get to safety.

"At least two other vehicles have been struck, and again this highlights the callous and reckless nature of this attack."

Mr McEwan said the investigation is at an early stage and that police believe the gunmen made off in a small dark car which was later found burned out just outside Omagh.

"I would appeal for anyone with any information about those involved, about the vehicle, or anything else you think may be of use to the inquiry, no matter how small, please come forward to police," he said.

Irish police are working closely in co-operation with their counterparts in the PSNI, and have intensified patrols amid suspicions the gunmen may have fled across the border.

The shooting has been condemned by politicians across the UK and Ireland.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was appalled by the "disgraceful shooting of an off-duty police officer in Omagh".

Irish premier Leo Varadkar condemned the "grotesque act of attempted murder".

More to follow...

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