Northern Ireland Police Release Teenagers Questioned in Lyra McKee Killing [UPDATED]

Photo: Charles McQuillan (Getty Images)

Update, Sunday, 5 p.m. ET: Police in Northern Ireland have released without charges the two teenagers who were arrested and questioned following the killing of 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee.

In a post to social media on Sunday, detectives from the police agency’s major investigations unit appealed for help from community members in Creggan, where McKee was shot to death while covering rioting on Thursday night.

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“We have received very positive support from the community but we need to convert this support into tangible evidence that will enable us to bring Lyra’s killers to justice. We will continue to work positively and sensitively with the local community to achieve this,” Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy said in the statement.

Murphy asked anyone who might have cellphone footage of the killing to come forward or upload it to a police online portal.

“I know there will be some people who know what happened but are scared to come forward but if you have information, no matter how small, please contact detectives...,” Murphy added.

Original post continues here:

Police in Northern Ireland on Saturday said they have arrested two suspects, ages 18 and 19, in connection with the killing of journalist Lyra McKee during rioting in Derry Thursday night.

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The suspects were arrested under the U.K.’s Terrorism Act and were taken to the Musgrave Serious Crime Suite in Belfast, police said via Twitter.

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McKee, 29, was covering the riots when she was shot while standing next to police vehicles. Cellphone footage shows one of the alleged killers “leaning out from behind cover and appearing to shoot,” The Guardian reported.

According to media reports, U.K. government troops and armored vehicles had conducted a police operation in Derry’s Creegan neighborhood on Thursday to search for weapons and explosives they believed had been stockpiled by dissidents from the New IRA and other groups in anticipation of an attack on the anniversary of the Easter Rising in 1916.

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Protesters set cars on fire and tossed fuel bombs when a gunman began firing at police vehicles, where McKee was standing along with other civilians.

One of the dissident groups, political party Saoradh, wrote on its website Friday that the shooting was accidental.

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“A republican volunteer attempted to defend people from the PSNI/RUC,” the statement said, according to The Guardian. PSNI/RUC refers to Northern Ireland’s current and former police forces. “Tragically a young journalist, Lyra McKee, was killed accidentally.”

In response, leaders of Northern Ireland’s six main political parties said they were “united in rejecting those responsible for this heinous crime,” according to the newspaper. The statement came 21 years after the Good Friday agreement in 1998 brought peace between the British and Irish governments and political parties in Northern Ireland.

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“The murder of this young woman is a human tragedy for her family, but it is also an attack on all the people of this community, an attack on our peace process and an attack on the Good Friday agreement,” Sinn Féin’s deputy leader, Michelle O’Neill, said, according to The Guardian.

Community leader Stephen Mallett told the newspaper that the young people “rallying to their cause” were now “dead in the water.”

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“They’ll get no quarter from anybody,” he added.

Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin said Friday, “The full and total responsibility for Lyra McKee’s death lies with the organization that sent someone out with a gun,” the Associated Press reported.

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Born in Belfast, McKee was named young journalist of the year by Sky News in 2006, and she was one of Forbes’ “30 Under 30” in European media in 2016, The Washington Post reported. She was working on a book about unsolved disappearances of children and young adults during the decades-long conflict known as the “Troubles,” in which some 3,700 were killed.

McKee is also known for a moving 2014 blog post titled, “Letter to my 14 year old self,” in which she shared her struggles as a gay teen in Northern Ireland, our sister site Jezebel reported.

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Vigils to honor McKee’s life and work were held across Northern Ireland on Saturday.

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