DETECTIVES have revealed that deposed UDA brigadier John ‘Bonzer’ Boreland was aware he was under threat before he was shot dead last night in north Belfast.
A gunman lurking in the shadows fired a shotgun at him from point blank range as he got out of his car.
The dead of night attack happened in Sunningdale Gardens.
Despite the efforts of paramedics, the former Irish League footballer was pronounced dead at the scene.
The 46-year-old father-of-three cheated death had survived a previous attempt to kill him two years ago – which was believed to have been part of an internal UDA feud.
Police said it was too early to say what the motive was, but they believed it was not a sectarian murder, adding the previous attack and other incidents involving tensions within loyalism were a “main line of enquiry” in the investigation.
Mr Boreland had been warned by police about his safety within the past few months.
“I have met today with his mum and dad, his fiancé, and his sister, he also leaves behind two sons and a daughter and they are all completely devastated at his death,” said Detective Chief Inspector Justyn Galloway of the PSNI’s Major Investigation Team which is probing the murder.
“John was known to police, he had been the victim of a previous shooting in 2014 and he was aware that he was under threat at the time of his murder.”
DCI Galloway made an appeal for information from anyone in the area at the time of the shooting and anyone who had been in Mr Boreland’s company in the lead up to his death.
MIT detectives also appealed for the drivers of three vehicles in the area: a motorbike, a silver Renault Megane and a black Peugeot 307.
The killing has prompted fears of an escalation of loyalist violence, and also speaking to press, Superintendent Paula Hilman appealed for calm and cooperation from those in the community.
“I would appeal to that community and those with influence to bear for good, within that community for calm, to work with us.
“It is our role, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, to uphold law and order within the community,” she said.
“No one should take the law into their own hands.”