An Open Source Survey of the Shooting of Lyra McKee

All times appear as local time UTC+1. 

On the night of April 18 2019, a confrontation between Republican dissidents and police in the Creggan area of Derry/Londonderry resulted in the killing of Lyra McKee, a journalist who was at the scene watching the unrest.

The events that led to McKee’s killing began as police searched a home in an area in Creggan known as Mulroy Gardens. As the police operation unfolded, a crowd had already gathered at the scene by 9:45 PM. By 10:00 PM, some of the individuals in the crowd had begun to throw petrol bombs, bricks and other objects at the police.

This confrontation took place on a short stretch of Fanad Drive, just outside one of the entrances to Mulroy Gardens. There, police faced off against a crowd that had gathered approximately 50 meters from the police position. As the night unfolded, two vehicles were placed on the intersection of Fanad Drive and Central Drive and set ablaze.

By the end of the night, a man would open fire from the crowd’s position towards the police, killing Lyra McKee. The shooting was captured on video from at least four vantage points. Additionally, the authorities have released a CCTV compilation showing some of the unrest, including the moment that the shooter opened fire.

What follows is an account of the events in Creggan on the night of April 18 2019 that ended with the killing of Lyra McKee.


Confrontation on Fanad Drive

At approximately 9:45 PM, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) were executing a search on a home in Mulroy Gardens, in the Creggan area of Derry/Londonderry. A journalist named Leona O’Neill who was at the scene reported that the search involved “Army Technical Officers”. It is likely that O’Neill meant to say either “Ammunition Technical Officer” (ATO), or possibly “Explosive Ordnance Disposal” (EOD). In either case, vehicles which appear to be similar to those used by EOD units in Northern Ireland were present. Video shared on her Twitter account shows at least seven police vehicles at the scene as the house search got underway:

A team of officers wearing protective gear entered the home. By that time, a crowd was already at the scene recording the events:

Based on the footage shared by O’Neill, the location of the operation was geolocated:

Footage shared by O’Neill shows that the officers blocked a section of Fanad Drive at the intersection with Central Drive. There, the officers stationed two vehicles. By this time, a crowd had gathered at the intersection:

The location of the police vehicles, and the stretch of Fanad Drive on which the confrontation occurred, was geolocated to this spot:

By 10:00 PM, petrol bombs were being thrown at the police vehicles. The situation quickly deteriorated as more petrol bombs and other objects were thrown at the vehicles. On at least one occasion, a third police vehiclewhich was likely being held back in reserverushed forward to deter the rioters. This vehicle eventually stopped and then drove in reverse to its original location. It is likely that this is the vehicle besides which McKee was standing when she was shot.

As the confrontation continued, a vehicle was parked on the side of the street where the crowd was located and set ablaze. A second vehicle was later parked nearby and also set on fire:


The Shooting of Lyra McKee

At 11:08 PM, O’Neill reported that shots had been fired on Fanad Drive, and that a woman had been injured and rushed to hospital. That woman was Lyra McKee.

The shooting was caught on video from at least four vantage points: two filmed from inside the crowd, and two filmed from the police position. Lyra was located near the police position when she was killed. A fifth video compilation from CCTV footage was also released by the authorities, which also showed some of the shooting.


Videos from the Crowd’s Position

The two videos filmed from inside the crowd captured some of the shooting. In the first video, two shots can be heard, but the shooter is obscured by the wreckage of a burned vehicle:

The second video was filmed from a different angle, and captured approximately the same moment as the video above. In this video, however, the shooter—a man whose face is covered—and an individual who appears to be accompanying him are clearly visible. This video also captured the moment when individuals, possibly including the shooter, picked up items from the ground (likely shell casings) after the shooting:

Below, the vantage point of the first video (dotted red line) and the second video (dotted blue line). The position of the shooter is marked with a black “X”, and the approximate location of the police vehicles on Fanad drive is marked by the yellow box:


Videos from the Police Position

A third video was filmed behind the police line. In that video, the armed man fires once. At 0:19, the woman who is heard screaming for help in the two previous videos can also be heard.



A fourth video, also shot from behind the police lines, captured the confrontation on Fanad Drive from approximately six minutes before the first shot was fired. Starting at approximately the six minute mark in the video, four shots can be heard. A period of approximately 20 seconds spans between the first shot and the last. Six seconds separate the moment that the last shot is fired and the moment that the woman begins to scream for help after McKee has been shot:

Based on the three videos, the spot where Lyra McKee fell can be geolocated:

Below, the vantage point of the first video (dotted red line) and the second video (dotted blue line). The spot where McKee fell is marked by a black “X”:

The PSNI also released a video compilation captured by CCTV cameras showing parts of the unrest, including some of the shooting. The video shows the moment that the armed man turns the corner and looks down Fanad Drive. Note that the timestamp on the CCTV video appears to show the time in UTC:


The Armed Man

The CCTV footage shows what appears to be an armed man turn the corner and look down Fanad Drive. The man quickly ducks back into cover behind the corner. Aside from having his face covered, he is wearing tracksuit bottoms that appear to have a word written on them running down his left leg:

An image of some of the demonstrators published in this article shows a group of four men, at least two of whom are carrying Molotov cocktails. One of the men has tracksuit bottoms with the word “TEAM9” running down his left leg (note: for a clearer view of the word, see this picture). The position of that word appears to match the portion of text that is visible on the armed man’s left leg in the CCTV footage above:

Close-up shot of the individual with the TEAM9 tracksuit bottoms. Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire

By resizing and rotating the PA Wire image of the man in the TEAM9 tracksuit bottoms and superimposing it over that of the armed man as he appears in the CCTV footage, we can check whether the writing on the tracksuit bottoms matches.

The video below begins with the armed man as he appears in the CCTV video. Then, a resized and rotated image of the man in the TEAM9 tracksuit bottoms from the PA Wire picture is superimposed over the CCTV image. As the two images converge, the fragment of the writing on the armed man’s leg matches the word TEAM9 on the man’s leg, strongly suggesting that the two individuals are the same person. However, because the individuals in the crowd who attacked the police appeared to have acted in a coordinated fashion, including wearing similar clothing to avoid identification, it is possible that two individuals in that crowd might have been wearing the same tracksuit bottoms:

The man with the TEAM9 tracksuit bottoms appears in more images, including some on this PA Images page. His face cover has a Nike logo on it, and he is wearing what appears to be a grey pair of Nike trainers.

In the first video that captured the moment of the shooting, a group of individuals whose faces are covered stand by the wreckage of one of the burned vehicles. They are wearing similar clothing, including what appear to be tracksuit bottoms, some of which have designs or writing running down their legs:

In the second video that captured the moment of the shooting, just seconds after the last bullet has been fired, a masked man enters the frame. He bends down to the ground, likely to pick up shell casings. As he does, the man appears to cover his hand with his sleeves, possibly out of a concern of leaving fingerprints on the casing, or that it might be too hot to touch. As the man leaves the frame, his left leg is exposed to the camera, and he appears to have a logo or writing running down his left leg. Because the shooter walked out of frame after after firing the last shot, and because the quality of the video does not allow for a clear view of the individual’s left leg, it is not possible to conclusively determine that the individual below is the shooter:

The video evidence suggests that the shooter acted as part of a group of individuals who dressed similarly, likely in an attempt to make difficult attempts to recognize any single individual in the group.

An attempt to synchronise the videos can be seen below:

Junior McDaid House

At 9:05 AM on April 19, a message was posted to a Facebook group called “Junior McDaid House”. In the post, the group posted a message extending its sympathies to the family and loved ones of Lyra McKee, and announced that it was cancelling an annual Easter Commemoration that was scheduled for Monday:

At 9:19 AM, the group posted a second message. In this second message, the group claims that a “Republican Volunteer attempted” to “defend people” from an “incursion” of officers with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (URC). It should be noted that the RUC was superseded by the PSNI in 2001 and no longer exists. The statement claims that during this attempt, Lyra McKee was “killed accidentally”:

The post linked to a page that, as of the writing of this article, was down. The page was archived at 10:15:27 UTC. A screenshot of that archive as it appeared then follows below:

Saoradh’s Twitter account also posted a link to the statement:

Saoradh is an unregistered dissident republican political party in Northern Ireland and Ireland. The Chief Constable of the PSNI stated in an interview with the BBC that “Saoradh is the political voice of the New IRA. I think there is significant overlap between the leadership of both the New IRA and Saoradh“. However, Saoradh has consistently denied being the political wing of the New IRA.



McKee’s killing has caused consternation both in Northern Ireland and abroad. She is the first journalist to be killed in the United Kingdom since 2001.

Mogens Blicher, the president of the European Federation of Journalists, called McKee “a very dedicated journalist” and stressed her commitment to covering the conflict in Northern Ireland.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) issued a statement through its General Secretary, Michelle Stanistreet, who said of McKee:

“A young, vibrant life has been destroyed in a senseless act of violence. Our thoughts are with her partner, family and many friends and colleagues. A bright light has been quenched and that plunges all of us into darkness. Her death is a major loss to journalism”.

A GoFundMe page has been set up in memory of Lyra McKee, with all proceeds going to her family.