WEST BELFAST. SEDICENNE PROTESTANTE VITTIMA DI UN ATTACCO SETTARIO
A Protestant teenager who was shot a number of times with a pellet gun in what police have called a sectarian hate attack has told UTV he feared for his life.
Jamie Bickerstaff was walking home when he was faced by a gang as he passed through the site of the former Mackies factory in west Belfast on Wednesday evening.
The 16-year-old said they asked him where he was from before knocking him to the ground and producing a pellet gun. He was kicked and shot a number of times in the upper body.
Jamie, who was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment on his injuries, told UTV he feared for his life when he saw the gun being pulled out.
He said: “About seven 18-year-olds approached me and asked me where I’m from.
“I said Woodvale and one of them put a mask above their nose and pulled out a black gun – I didn’t know if it’s real or not – and punched me, then all of them came over and kicked me to the ground and started shooting me with the pellet gun and just walked away.
“My heart started racing and I was really scared – I didn’t know what was going to happen. I was lying on the ground and the next thing I know this guy was standing over me, shooting me.
“It’s pathetic, they did it for no reason. I was just walking home.”
A spokesperson for the PSNI said the incident, which happened at around 10.50pm, is being treated as a sectarian hate crime at this stage. They added: “Enquiries are continuing”.
Politicians have condemned what happened.
DUP MLA William Humphrey said: “This was a very serious assault and sectarian attack. Not only was this youth assaulted and beaten by a cowardly mob, he was also shot in the arms with a pellet gun.
“This outrageous attack is totally unacceptable in any society. I appeal directly to those who know who was responsible for this barbaric attack to pass that information on to the police.”
Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson said: “I am shocked and outraged that this teenager was shot with a pellet gun in this violent attack. It is utterly depressing that sectarian attacks are still taking place.
“There can be no justification for this attack. I hope the victim will be able to recover from what must have been a very traumatic incident.”
Anyone with further information has been asked to contact the PSNI.