Jim Gray, an Ulster Defense Association leader in East Belfast, was shot in the face by a lone gunman on Monday night as he got out of a car. He escaped by running to a nearby police station, where he was given first aid. The shooting was believed to be retaliation for the murder last week of Stephen Warnock, a member of the LVF who police said was also a major drug dealer.
In an apparently related development, there was a gun attack on the home of one of Warnock’s brothers early on Tuesday morning. There were no injuries, and Warnock’s funeral went ahead as planned later that day.
UDA members were ordered to stay away from the funeral after the attack on Gray, but it was reported that several UDA figures attended the ceremony. Several, including notorious UDA leader Johnny Adair, placed newspaper death notices paying tribute to Warnock.
Loyalist sources claimed there was a dispute between the LVF and the UDA in East Belfast, but a UDA leader told the BBC that the organization took the attack on Gray as an attack on them all.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland said it is concerned about the attacks. Assistant Chief Constable Alan McQuillan, the police commander in Belfast, said: “We have to recognize that these are Mafia organizations and the most probable cause is some sort of sordid drugs war or business interests war between those groups.”
The dispute illustrated the fractious nature of loyalist paramilitaries. Two years ago, the LVF and UDA sided together in a feud against the UVF that left seven people dead.
Meanwhile, the official formerly in charge of a body promoting Protestant language rights in Northern Ireland has indicated that he will plead guilty to sex charges in a Chicago court next month.
Stan Mallon, the former acting chief executive of the Ulster Scots Agency, is accused of enticing a girl he believed to be a minor to engage in sex and of traveling between states to engage in sex with a minor.
Mallon, 62, was arrested in a Chicago hotel in March, after traveling to the U.S. on agency business. He initially pleaded not guilty, but his lawyer, Cynthia Giachetti told a federal court: “We’re in the process of completing a plea agreement but it isn’t finalized.”
Officers from the Cook County Sheriff’s child exploitation unit allege Mallon was in contact over the Internet with a female he believed to be 14 years old. Police say she was actually an undercover officer. He is due to be rearraigned on Oct. 10.