Detectives investigating the deaths of three teenagers in a reported crushing incident outside a St Patrick’s Day disco in Northern Ireland have traced the identities of 160 witnesses.
Giving an update on the police investigation, Police Service of Northern Ireland Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray said CCTV footage indicated that around 400 people were outside the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown, Co Tyrone, at the time of the incident on Sunday night.
He urged young people to come forward, insisting police are not primarily concerned if they were underage and attempting to enter a licensed premises.
“I want to thank everyone who has spoken with us so far, however, there is still a significant number of people who were there that night, in the queue, and I need them to come forward to speak to police so we can understand what happened,” said Mr Murray.
“Initial CCTV viewing would lead us to estimate that perhaps as many as 400 people were in the queue or car park at that time.”
Mr Murray said officers had already spoken to a number of young witnesses from the 160 identified so far.
“A number of parents have indicated they are concerned that their children, who may have been underage, were trying to enter a licensed premises,” he said.
“I want to reassure you, the focus of our investigation is not the age of people who were at the event – it is about trying to find answers for the families of the three teenagers who tragically died – we need to know what you saw so the heartbroken families of Connor, Lauren and Morgan know what happened to their children.”
“I would urge parents to talk with your children, support them and encourage them to come forward and tell their story to police so we can get an accurate picture of events that night.
“Talk to your children, reassure them – we know they may be scared – but again I can assure you we are only interested in establishing what happened. Their account of events on Sunday night could be crucial to establishing how Connor, Lauren and Morgan died.”
Mr Murray said more could have died in the incident.
“We are fortunate that we are looking at three deaths, we could absolutely have been looking at more,” he said.
Two men – understood to be the owner of the Greenvale Hotel, Michael McElhatton, and a member of the door staff – have been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter over the deaths of the three teenagers.
Picture: Students from Holy Trinity College leave floral tributes outside the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, in Northern Ireland following the deaths of three teenagers, Lauren Bullock, Connor Currie, and Morgan Barnard, at a St Patrick’s Day party. (Liam McBurney/PA Wire).