New CCTV footage has been released by detectives from the PSNI’s Major Investigation Team investigating the attempted murder of Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell.
The Crimestoppers charity has also today announced an increased reward of £150,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those involved in the attempted murder of the senior police officer.
DCI Caldwell was shot two weeks ago, on Wednesday, February 22, at a sports centre in Omagh’s Killyclogher Road.
Detective Chief Superintendent Eamonn Corrigan said: “It is now two weeks to the day since this horrific attack took place and we are working relentlessly to bring those responsible to justice.
“I am now in a position to say that I believe a second Ford Fiesta was used in the attempted murder of DCI Caldwell. It is also a blue Ford Fiesta of a similar model. This second car had registration number RLZ 9805 and was bought in Glengormley towards the end of January. I believe this car travelled to Belfast around this date.
“It was then driven from Belfast at approximately 1pm on Wednesday, February 22 – the day of the attack on John – and travelled along the M1 in the direction of Coalisland and Omagh. It was found burnt out in the Ardboe Industrial Estate the following day, Thursday, February 23. I would like to know where it was stored and its movements during this period of time.
“Today, I am releasing new CCTV footage of the first blue Ford Fiesta as it travels into Coalisland at around 10pm on the night of the 21st. It had registration number MGZ 6242, and was fitted with false plates, FRZ 8414, prior to the attack.
“Previous CCTV footage issued shows this blue Ford Fiesta leaving the sports complex and turning left onto the Killyclogher Road immediately after the shooting. We then know it travelled past Glendale Service Station to the Racolpa Road where it was abandoned and set on fire.
“We have established that this first blue Ford Fiesta was purchased in Ballyclare on Wednesday, February 8 and was observed travelling towards Belfast on the M2 Motorway that night. It was next noted leaving Belfast at around 9.30pm on Tuesday 21 February – the night before the attack on John – and travelled along the M1 Motorway into Coalisland at around 10pm.
“My appeal today is for anyone who knows where either of these two cars were kept prior to the shooting or has knowledge of their movements on the day of the shooting to come forward.
“I am also appealing for anyone who observed anything suspicious in the Racolpa Road area of Omagh on the night of the shooting and in Ardboe the following night, Thursday, February 23. Did you see anyone or any vehicles in these areas? Did you observe any vehicles driving away at speed?”
DCI Caldwell, who remains critical but stable in hospital, was shot by two gunmen around 8pm on Wednesday, February 22, as he packed up after coaching a youth football team.
Detective Chief Superintendent Corrigan added: “John was shot multiple times and, when he fell to the ground, the gunmen continued to fire at him. This cowardly attempt to take a life took place in the midst of terrified children and parents, and, disturbingly, in front of John’s young son. Any number of adults or children could easily have been seriously injured or killed.
“I am asking you to stop and imagine, for just one second, how you would feel if this happened to your loved one. And I’m asking you to search your conscience and come forward with any information, no matter how insignificant it may seem.
“We will work relentlessly to bring those responsible to justice. We continue to views hours of CCTV, have conducted a number of searches, carried out extensive house-to-house enquiries and have spoken with pedestrians, drivers and passengers during a scene revisit last week.
“We have arrested eight men, aged between 22 and 71. All have since been released following questioning, and our investigation continues.
“We continue to treat this as terrorist-related and our primary line of enquiry is it has been carried out by the New IRA.”
Mick Duthie, Crimestoppers Director of Operations, said: “On behalf of Crimestoppers, I would like to express our shock and sadness at the callous shooting of DCI John Caldwell. As a father of young children myself and a children’s football coach also, this attack really resonates with me. We are pleased to offer this £150,000 reward for information, thanks to the generosity of donors.
“If you’re reluctant to speak to the police, please remember that our charity is here to help you do the right thing. Tell Crimestoppers what you know whilst staying completely anonymous. Please understand Crimestoppers has kept its promise to protect your identity since we started back in the late 1980s. You can contact us via our website or call our UK Contact Centre on 0800 555 111. Details about how to claim this reward are available online.
“We are completely independent from the police. When you contact Crimestoppers we never ask for or store personal details. All we ask is that you tell us what you know. Your information can make all the difference.”
Contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org
Information, including photos, CCTV and dash-cam footage, can also be provided to police through the Major Incident Public Portal at: https://mipp.police.uk/operation/PSNI23S03-PO1