George Gilmore jnr posted this picture of his murdered dad’s friend Colin Horner who was shot dead in Bangor on Sunday in front of his young son

DETECTIVES believe a two-man UDA hit squad may have been tailing feud victim Colin Horner before callously blasting him to death in front of his young son.

The 35-year-old was shot dead on Sunday afternoon while out shopping with his three-year-old son at Sainsbury’s store in Bangor.

Today, police have made an appeal for anyone who may have saw murder victim in the final moments of his life before he was brutally gunned down.

Mr Horner was shot at least three times by a single gun man in the car park at Balloon Link in front of a “large number” of Sunday shoppers.

Police said the man’s young son was immediately beside him when he was shot dead.

the officer leading the investigation, Det Supt Richard Campbell of the PSNI’s Major Investigation Team, said: “It’s a hugely barbaric act that will live long in this young boy’s memory.”

He said the attack had a “huge degree of recklessness” with one stray bullet found to have hit another car in the shooting.

Speaking at a press conference today, Monday, May 29, the police officer said the victim was “known to police” and one line of investigation was the ongoing loyalist tensions in Carrickfergus although they were in the early stages of a major investigation.

“But that should not take away from the fact a man with his three-year-old son was gunned down in a supermarket car park,” the officer said.

He said that he could not comment on if there was a threat against the 35-year-old’s life, other than to say that police act accordingly when they are aware of a threat against anyone.

The victim had fled Carrickfergus over the bitter internal feud within the Sea East Antrim (SEA) UDA.

He was a close friend of Geordie Gilmour snr who was blasted to death by the SEA UDA in March this year.

Det Supt Campbell outlined what police knew of the final few hours of Mr Horner’s life.

He said the victim had been living with his partner and son in the Rathgael area “for some time”.

At around 1 pm he left the house in his black Nissan Pulsar car registration XFZ 4706 before arriving at Sainsbury’s around 2.30pm.

He then went into the supermarket with his son for about 10 minutes.

As he got into his car, he was then approached by a single gunman who fired, it’s thought, a handgun.

The hitman was said to be wearing a hoodie with it covering his head and either a builder’s dust mask or scarf covering his face.

Det Supt Richard Campbell says murder of Colin Horner was both “reckless” and “callous”

The police officer said officers were scouring CCTV footage from around the car park and inside the store but appealed to the public’s help to fill in the blanks of the murdered man’s final movements.

“Where was he in the hour before the attack?” said the officer appealing for the public’s help.

MIT detectives believe the gunman made his escape, with at least one other accomplice in a red Ford Mondeo registration GKZ 7996, although this was a false plate, police said.

It was parked across from Sainsbury’s car park and had a missing rear driver’s side hub cap.

It is thought to have driven off in the direction of Six Road Ends before it was found burnt out on Kerrs Road between Newtownards and Bangor.

Mr Campbell said the vehicle may have been following Mr Horner in the run up to the shooting.

“There was the gunman and at least one other associate. So they must have had another vehicle on the Kerrs Road to take them away, so someone must have saw them, or them burning the car,” the officer continued.

“There were a number of people we are yet to speak to and urge them to come forward and speak to police in Bangor.

“I am conscious this happened in a busy car park on a Sunday afternoon and there may be people with footage on mobile phones and I would urge those people to come forward.”

The detective also encouraged anyone with dashboard camera footage that was in the area at the time to contact police as it may hold vital clues in the pursuit of the gunman.”

MIT detectives can be contacted on the non-emergency number 101.

Alternatively, information can be passed anonymously to Crimestoppers on freephone 0800 555 111.

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