A journalist was shot dead in Derry, Ireland, during riots on Thursday night, the BBC confirmed. Lyra McKee, who has published articles for BuzzFeed, Mosaic Science, and The Atlantic, was killed during the riots in which shots were fired and petrol bombs were thrown. She was 29-years-old.
McKee was initially wounded near a police vehicle and was taken to Altnagelvin Hospital, but succumbed to her injuries. She sent a tweet just before being shot that called the riots in Derry “absolute madness.”
The police in Londonderry are saying “dissident republicans” may be to blame for the riots. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said that the New IRA (Irish Republican Army) – a paramilitary group whose aim is to bring about a united Ireland – was “likely to be the ones behind this.” Detectives have already begun a murder investigation.
The New IRA began in 2012 as a merger and has been linked to other attacks, including the murder of two prison officers.
According to The Guardian, witnesses say a masked gunman was seen firing in the direction of the police. Hamilton added on Friday that a “single gunman fired shots in a residential area of the city and as a result wounded Ms. McKee.”
A journalist has been killed covering riots in Derry. Her name was Lyra McKee. She was 29. She recently signed a two-book deal with Faber, who called her a "rising star of investigative journalism". This is her last tweet, sent from the scene of the unrest. pic.twitter.com/0gk1Fa7Du0
— Naomi O'Leary (@NaomiOhReally) April 19, 2019
Sources say that the trouble began late evening when police entered the area of Creggan estate to search for guns and explosives. Officials say that Republicans in the area may have stored weapons for a planned attack this Easter. The riots began at Fanad Drive in which more than 50 petrol bombs were thrown and two vehicles were hijacked before being lit on fire.
By about 11 p.m. BST, more than 100 people – including journalists – were on the scene when shots were being fired. One witness reported that children were also present.
Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley said that the actions of those involved were “intolerable” and were in contrast to the majority of the population who “want to build a peaceful and more prosperous future for everyone in Northern Ireland.”
McKee made a name for herself in 2014 when she uploaded a blog post called “Letter To My 14-Year-Old-Self” in which she spoke about her experience growing up gay in Belfast. The post was eventually turned into a short film in 2016.
Forbes magazine named her one of 2016’s “30 Under 30” in media, saying that her passion was to “dig into topics that others don’t care about.” She had recently signed a two-book deal with Faber & Faber.