More attention paid to fireworks thrown at police than 20 year old being shot says mum

Gunmen wanted victim’s brother

By Scott Jamison

A South Belfast man left in a wheelchair after being shot in a paramilitary-style attack has said his assailants were looking for his brother but shot him instead when their search failed.

Joe McMullan (20) from the Markets area was shot in both feet around 9pm last Tuesday (September 20) after three masked men, two with handguns and one with a hammer, burst into his Stanfield Row home looking for his older brother Michael.

Despite Joe and his mother Linda’s protests that Michael did not live there, they proceeded to shoot Joe. He was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital for treatment and will remain in a wheelchair for at least six weeks.

The incident gained widespread media attention when police investigating the shooting were bombarded with fireworks by local youths in an unrelated attack. No officers were taken to hospital.

Joe’s angry mother said she felt her son had been “forgotten about” as “more attention” had been paid to the fireworks’ incident than the shooting.

Joe, who suffers from epilepsy, said the men had first searched for his brother before targeting him.

“They were asking where Michael was and we were telling them he didn’t live here. The guy with the hammer looked in all the upstairs rooms and then one of the gunmen took my mother out the back. The one that was left with me told me to lie on the ground and put my feet up on the sofa and that was when he shot me.

“We kept telling them I wasn’t Michael but they knew I wasn’t my brother. The men came right to this house and knew exactly where they were going, so if they knew that, they must have known who Michael was and that I wasn’t him.

“I want to know why they targeted me. I’ve been left in this wheelchair unable to do anything and I’m staying with a relative now because I don’t want to be here if they come back.”

Joe’s mum Linda hit out at her son’s treatment.

“A 20-year-old boy has been shot and no-one has mentioned it. It was bad that police had fireworks thrown at them but as a mother, I was disgusted that it seemed as if my son didn’t matter.

“We have no idea who it was that carried this out, I didn’t recognise anything about them so we don’t think it was people from the Market. My other son doesn’t live here and has been out of the area for months, so whatever he has or hasn’t been involved in is a matter for him. Joe keeps himself to himself and isn’t involved in anything.”

She added that judgments on other’s behaviour was immaterial in the face of such violence.

“It doesn’t matter anyway, whatever issues there are, the police should be dealing with it. It is not up to these guys to make themselves the police of this area.”

A police spokesperson appealed for witnesses to the shooting to contact them on 0845 600 8000 or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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