Freelance investigative journalist Lyra McKee was fatally shot in April 2019, during riots and a police operation in Northern Ireland. As of January 2023, three men had been charged in connection with her killing.
McKee, 29, was shot in the head on April 18, 2019, during clashes between rioters and police in the Creggan area of Londonderry, also known as Derry, and died in a local hospital. She was filming the riots on her phone and standing next to a police vehicle when she was shot, and police said they believe the gunman was aiming at officers.
Media reported that violence broke out after police raided houses where they suspected republican dissidents may have stored weapons that could have been used for terrorism acts around the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Uprising.
Séamus Dooley, assistant general secretary of the U.K.’s National Union of Journalists, said of McKee on April 19, “I have no doubt that it was that commitment [to journalism] which led to her presence on the streets of the Creggan last night, observing a riot situation in the city.” Dooley and news reports said that McKee had tweeted images and commentary on the riot, and Dooley added that she had spoken with a journalist colleague on the street.
In February 2020, the Londonderry Magistrates’ Court charged Paul McIntyre, a man from Londonderry, with McKee’s murder in joint enterprise with an unknown gunman. The charges came after video footage surfaced allegedly showing McIntyre picking up bullet casings that had come from a gun after it was fired by another man. McIntyre’s lawyer, Derwin Harvey, told the BBC that there was "scant" evidence against his client, adding that the case rested on a "snapshot" of low-quality mobile phone footage. The Irish News reported in July 2022 that McIntyre remained free on bail.
In June 2020, police said they identified a gun, a Hammerli X-Esse pistol that they found during searches in Londonderry, as the weapon used to kill McKee; they added that the weapon was used in four other paramilitary shootings. In September 2022, Londonderry man Niall Sheerin was sentenced to seven years in prison for possessing the gun that killed McKee. However, the court said the prosecution had not established that Sheerin was aware of the specific history of the gun, and that he was not sentenced in connection with McKee’s murder.
In January 2023, Peter Cavanagh and Jordan Devine, both from Londonderry, were charged with McKee’s murder; they denied the charge and were out on bail pending a trial date in Belfast. The two men were also charged—along with six others–with rioting on the night McKee was killed.
McKee had written for The Atlantic, BuzzFeed News, and The Belfast Telegraph, among others. She was an editor for Mediagazer, a media aggregator headquartered in Silicon Valley, in the U.S. Her book on a cold case of a murdered member of Parliament during the Troubles, Angels with Blue Faces, was due to be published soon, and she had signed two book deals and almost completed another book, The Lost Boys, due out in 2020 by Faber and Faber, according to reports.
In 2016, Forbes named McKee one of “30 under 30 in European media.” The Irish Times listed her as one of the “10 rising stars of Irish writing” in March 2019. She was described in tributes from colleagues as an inspirational activist and tireless advocate for nonviolence, human rights, and the LGBTQI community. She had relocated from north Belfast to Londonderry a few months prior to be with her partner, according to reports.