The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has confirmed that Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell from the Major Investigation Team was the off-duty officer shot in an attempted murder in Omagh on 22nd February. The incident occurred shortly after 8pm when Caldwell was returning to his car at a sports complex on the Killyclogher Road. The police officer is in critical but stable condition and is being treated in hospital.
Three men aged 38, 45, and 47 have been arrested under the Terrorism Act in Omagh and Coalisland in connection with the attempted murder. They are currently being questioned by detectives in Musgrave Serious Crime Suite. Assistant Chief Constable for Crime Department Mark McEwan stated that Caldwell’s family is “understandably shocked” by the shooting. Caldwell is a highly respected senior investigating officer who supports victims and families in bringing others to justice.
According to Assistant Chief Constable McEwan, two gunmen approached Caldwell and fired multiple shots at him. Caldwell ran a short distance and fell to the ground while the gunmen continued to fire shots at him. Caldwell’s young son was with him at the time and witnessed the shooting. The gunmen fired from close range in a busy sports training area where adults and children were present.
The investigation is at an early stage, and the PSNI is appealing to anyone with information to come forward. The main line of enquiry is that violent dissident republicans carried out the attack, with a primary focus on the New IRA. The two gunmen were dressed in dark clothing, carried out a “cowardly attack,” and left the scene on foot. At least two other vehicles were struck by their volley of shots. The gunmen fled the scene in a small, dark-coloured vehicle, which was later found abandoned and set on fire in Racolpa Road, Omagh.
The PSNI is requesting anyone who has information, photos, CCTV footage, or dash-cam footage to contact officers on 101 quoting reference number 1831 of 22/02/23. The Major Incident Public Portal is another way to provide information to the police. Assistant Chief Constable McEwan expressed sympathy for Caldwell and his family and stated that the PSNI recognizes the “huge shock and trauma” this has caused in the community in Omagh.