LONDON – Police in Northern Ireland charged a 52-year-old man on Wednesday with murdering Lyra McKee, a journalist shot dead during a riot involving Irish Republican Army dissidents last year.
The killing of McKee caused widespread shock in a region still scarred by decades of violence known as the Troubles, in which more than 3,500 people died.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland said the man, who has not been named, was charged with murder, possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and “professing to be a member of a proscribed organization.”
The suspect is due to appear in court in the city of Londonderry on Thursday.
McKee, 29, was observing anti-police rioting in the city, also known as Derry, when she was killed on April 18, 2019. The New IRA, a small paramilitary group that opposes Northern Ireland’s peace process, said its members shot McKee by accident while firing at police.
McKee was a rising star of journalism, who had written powerfully about growing up gay in Northern Ireland and the struggles of the generation of “cease-fire babies” raised after the 1998 Good Friday peace accord that ended three decades of sectarian violence.
The IRA and most other paramilitary groups have disarmed, but a small number of dissidents refuse to abandon violence, and have targeted police and prison officials in bombings and shootings.
Hundreds of people attended McKee’s funeral, including the prime ministers of Britain and Ireland and political leaders from Northern Ireland’s Protestant and Catholic communities.
Her death helped spur a successful effort to get feuding politicians to revive Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government, which had collapsed in 2017.
Police Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy said the charge would not end the investigation into McKee’s death.
“I have always said that a number of individuals were involved with the gunman on the night Lyra was killed, and while today is significant for the investigation the quest for the evidence to bring the gunman to justice remains active and ongoing,” he said.
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