Who is DCI John Caldwell, the senior police officer shot in Northern Ireland?

On Wednesday February 22, Det Chief Insp John Caldwell was shot in front of his son when he returned to his car at a sport centre in Omagh. The attack has been described as an attempted murder.

Dissident republican group the New IRA has claimed responsibility for the shooting of DCI John Caldwell, and police have released CCTV footage of the car used by the gunmen. The blue Ford Fiesta had been bought two weeks before the attack and stored in Belfast, where its plates were changed.

Police said a £20,000 reward had been offered for information.

Since the tragic event, six people remain in custody for questioning, the youngest being 22 and the oldest 71.

The latest update about the DCI shared that he was critically ill after suffering life-changing injuries caused by multiple wounds to his torso and is undergoing surgery.

Here is everything we know about DCI John Caldwell.

Who is DCI John Caldwell?

Det Chief Insp John Caldwell is a member of the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s major investigation team.

Over his career, he worked on many notable cases. One of the high-profile investigations headed by him was the murder of PSNI officer Ronan Kerr in the same town where the senior detective was gunned down.

The killing of Constable Kerr was blamed on dissident republicans styling themselves as the New IRA – the same renegade group police suspect of shooting Mr Caldwell on Wednesday night.

Mr Kerr, a 25-year-old recently graduated police recruit, died when a booby-trap bomb detonated under his car outside his home in Omagh in April 2011.

Making an appeal for information on the 10th anniversary of the murder in 2021, Mr Caldwell’s words now assume a chilling poignancy given what happened to him in the same Co Tyrone town.

“His job was to protect the community,” he said. “Despicably, people living in his own community planned and plotted to kill him simply because he was a police officer bravely going out every day to protect people and make communities safer places to live and work.”

What other high-profile cases had DCI John Caldwell worked on recently?

In December, he was involved in the investigation following the killing of Natalie McNally, 32, when she was 15 weeks’ pregnant. She was stabbed at her home in Silverwood Green, Lurgan, Co Armagh.

Earlier in December, Mr Caldwell took on the case of Mark Lovell. The 58-year-old was shot a number of times at close range while in his car outside his home in Newry.

A month later, the DCI assumed the role of senior investigating officer when Shane Whitla, a 39-year-old father-of-four, was shot dead in Lurgan, Co Armagh.

In October 2022, he headed the investigation into the murder of Ryan McNab in Co Antrim.

Mr McNab, 31, from north Belfast, was killed in an attack in the Rathcoole area of Newtownabbey.

In January of last year, Mr Caldwell fronted public appeals following the fatal stabbing of Martin Gavin, 47, in Belfast.

While in 2021, Mr Caldwell led the probe into the murder of Katie Brankin, who was murdered by her partner at a glamping site in Limavady, Co Derry.