Three men arrested after detective shot in Northern Ireland

Three men have been arrested for attempted murder of an off-duty officer shot in Northern Ireland.

The officer, named as Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell, was shot multiple times in front of young people he had been coaching at a sports centre just before 8pm on Wednesday, in Omagh, Co Tyrone.

Police say the dissident republican group, the New IRA, is the "primary focus" of the force's investigation.

The attack happened while DCI Caldwell was loading footballs into the boot of his car when the two men opened fire, according to Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan of Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI).

"There were many other young people, children, awaiting pick-up by their parents. Those children ran for cover in sheer terror towards the centre," ACC McEwan added.

He said DCI Caldwell's young son was also present, adding: "The trauma inflicted on this young boy is just horrific and he will never forget seeing his dad shot multiple times.

"The gunmen fired from close range in the busy sports training area, which could also quite easily have killed or seriously injured children who were present at the time of the shooting."

DCI Caldwell remains in a critical but stable condition in hospital, where he underwent surgery overnight.

He is a high-profile officer who has led a number of major investigations, including taking a leading role in the murder probe following the killing of Natalie McNally in Lurgan in December.

'A valued and active member of his community'

Speaking about the shooting, Chief Constable of PSNI, Simon Byre, said: "Clearly as an organisation, we are utterly shocked and angered by last night's brazen and calculated attack.

"John is a father, husband and colleague, and a valued and active member of his local community."

He said Mr Caldwell has been a valued police officer for 26 years "committed to public service as a senior investigating officer supporting victims and their families in bringing offenders to justice".

He also confirmed that three men, aged 38, 45 and 47, had been arrested on Thursday morning in connection with the police's attempted murder investigation.

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