'Armed robber' police gun victim named

A man shot dead by an off-duty police officer during a suspected filling-station robbery was named yesterday.

Investigators were looking into claims that 29-year-old Marc Alexander Ringland was armed with a knife when he was shot at the premises in Albertbridge Road, Belfast.

The dead man was from the east of the city – the same district where the shooting took place at around 7pm on Thursday.

The man's identity was confirmed by the Police Ombudsman's office, which is investigating the circumstances of the fatal shooting.

A total of 20 ombudsman investigators are looking into the circumstances of the shooting, which took place in a busy shop at a petrol station on a main route into the centre of the city.

A spokesman for the Ombudsman's office said: "The area was cordoned off to allow forensic examination to take place and a number of items have been retrieved for further analysis, which is ongoing today.

"We have also identified and spoken to a number of witnesses, and would like to appeal for anyone else who may know anything about what happened to contact us."

It is thought the off-duty officer may have come upon the scene, but the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said the full details of what happened had not yet been established.

PSNI officers are routinely armed while on duty and have weapons for their protection when off duty.

The Ombudsman's office investigates complaints against police but is called immediately when officers fire baton rounds or live rounds.

Residents living near the scene were said to be shocked by the episode.

Junior Minister in the Stormont Assembly Robin Newton said his son was a victim of a previous robbery at the same shop.

"Several years ago my son was working in this same filling station and experienced a violent hold-up situation," said the Democratic Unionist Party representative.

"This was a disturbing and troubling experience for him, which took some time to get over."

"He added: "This distressing incident is unfortunately a worrying trend in the east of the city."

In the aftermath of the shooting, Sinn Fein representative for the area Niall O Donnghaile said: "While there has been an increase in robberies in south and east Belfast over recent weeks, it is vital that tonight's incident is investigated fully and that all information comes to light."