Lyra McKee

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Freelance investigative journalist Lyra McKee was fatally injured on April 18, 2019, during riots and a police operation in Northern Ireland, according to multiple news reports.

McKee, 29, was shot during clashes between rioters and police in the Creggan area of Londonderry, also known as Derry, and died in a local hospital, according to those reports. In a statement, Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin said police were investigating.

In a statement issued by the U.K.’s National Union of Journalists on April 19, the union’s assistant general secretary, Séamus Dooley, said of McKee, “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. According to The Associated Press, McKee was filming the riots on her phone and standing next to a police vehicle when she was shot in the head. Police said they believe the gunman was aiming at officers, according to reports.

Northern Ireland police directed CPJ to statements on its website about McKee’s death and the status of the investigation.

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.

On April 23, 2019, media reports said that the New IRA, a paramilitary group, had claimed responsibility for McKee’s death in a statement sent to The Irish News.

On May 9, 2019, Northern Ireland police arrested two men aged 38 and 51 and two teenage males aged 18 and 15 as part of the investigation into McKee’s death, according to media reports. The Police Service of Northern Ireland stated on May 9 that the four were being held under terrorism laws and questioned in connection with the violence that erupted during the riots on April 18, when McKee was shot and killed.

On February 13, 2020, the Derry Magistrates Court charged Paul McIntyre, a man from Derry, with McKee’s murder in joint enterprise with an unknown gunman, according to The Guardian.

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, according to a report by the BBC. 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. McIntyre’s trial remained ongoing as of September 2021 while he was free on bail, according to news reports.

On September 15, 2021, Northern Ireland police in Derry arrested four men allegedly connected to McKee’s killing, and brought them for questioning in Belfast, according to The Guardian, which said they were accused of violating the 2006 Terrorism Act.

On September 17, authorities charged two of the men, identified as Jordan Devine and Gearoid Peter Cavanagh, with murdering McKee, and on September 22, both men were denied bail on appeal, according to multiple reports by the BBC.

According to those reports, Devine and Cavanagh were also charged with riot; possessing firearms and ammunitions with intent to endanger life; possessing petrol bombs; throwing petrol bombs; and arson.

Another suspect was charged with riot and possession and throwing of petrol bombs, and the fourth man was released, those reports said.

Derwin Harvey, also acting on Cavanagh’s behalf, said that his client denied being involved in the incident during a police interview and said he was a “chronic alcoholic at the time and would not have been capable of doing what was alleged,” according to local news website Derry Journal.

Attorney Joe Brolly, defending Devine, said that there was “zero sustainable evidence in this case” and also maintained his client’s innocence, according to that report.

CPJ emailed Brolly and Harvey for comment, but did not receive any replies.

Police arrested two additional men, aged 24 and 29, on September 22, according to The Guardian. CPJ emailed questions to the press department of the Northern Ireland police for comment, but did not receive any reply.

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 Derry a few months prior to be with her partner, according to reports.