Gay journalist and author Lyra McKee was shot dead last night (April 18) while reporting at the scene of riots that broke out in Derry, Northern Ireland.
The acclaimed journalist from Belfast was just 29-years-old and had recently signed a two-book deal with publisher Faber & Faber. They are set to publish her book The Lost Boys next year.
Northern Ireland police said Lyra McKee ‘tragically’ died from her injuries
Assistant Chief Constable for District Policing Mark Hamilton said: “Lyra McKee was murdered during orchestrated violence in Creggan last night.
“A single gunman fired shots in a residential area of the city and as a result wounded Ms McKee. Officers quickly administered first aid before transporting her in the back of a landrover to hospital.
“Tragically she died from her injuries. At this stage we believe her murder was carried out by a violent dissident republican. Our thoughts are very much with the family and friends of Ms McKee, who was a journalist based in Belfast.”
Police said they were in the area last night “protecting the public” when shots were fired and McKee was killed. They were carrying out searches as they believed dissident republicans were storing firearms and explosives and had planned attacks over Easter weekend.
“The shock over what happened here in this city last night is hanging heavy over the entire community today.”
– Assistant Chief Constable for District Policing Mark Hamilton
They began conducting searches just after 9pm, however a crowd quickly gathered and violence ensued. 50 petrol bombs were thrown at police officers during the altercation and two vehicles were hijacked and set on fire.
It was close to 11pm when the gunman fired shots, resulting in McKee’s death.
Hamilton added: “The shock over what happened here in this city last night is hanging heavy over the entire community today. As we move into the Easter weekend I would appeal for calm and ask everyone with influence in the community to work together to ensure there are no further acts of violence.”
Social media has been flooded with tributes to the journalist
Social media was flooded with tributes to McKee today. Politico correspondent Naomi O’Leary tweeted: “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”.
Lilly Dancyger, editor at Narratively.com, tweeted: “Lyra McKee was dedicated to covering the lasting trauma & violence of the Troubles. Devastating to hear she as killed tonight by that same violence.”
Meanwhile, Séamus Dooley of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) tweeted: “Shocked by news that woman shot dead in Derry last night has been named locally as Lyra McKee. We are shocked by killing of a journalist of courage, style and integrity. Sympathy to her partner, family and many friends.”
In an interview with The Irish Times in 2017, McKee said: “I thought at 14 you could not be out and proud; that it was a secret that had to be kept at all costs. I believed that it was better to be dead than out and gay. I believed that because of all the Biblical scripts. I used to sit in my house at night and bargain with God not to send me to hell. I don’t think any child should have to go through that.”
She also said she was “lucky” that her family was supportive when she came out at the age of 21.