Isle of Skye: Suspect due in court today is the husband of woman stabbed


A man accused of going on a rampage that left one person dead and three others seriously injured was charged with murder and three attempted murders.

Finlay MacDonald, 39, is accused of murdering John MacKinnon, who is believed to be his brother-in-law, with a firearm, turning the weapon on two more victims and stabbing his wife, Rowena MacDonald, 32.

MacKinnon, 47, was shot dead at home in the fishing village of Teangue on the Isle of Skye in a series of ‘linked’ incidents.

Police were called to the village of Tarskavaig at 9am on Wednesday following reports that his sister-in-law Rowena, had been stabbed in her home.

The alarm was then raised around 30 minutes later after a gunman opened fire on Mr MacKinnon at his home eight miles away.

A further two people were then injured in the Scottish mainland village of Dornie after further reports of gunfire. Osteopath John Don Mackenzie and his social worker wife Fay, both 63, were rushed to hospital following the attack.

Wednesday's horror began when the first victim, named locally as Mr MacKinnon's sister-in-law, Rowena MacDonald, 32, (pictured) was stabbed at a property in the village of Tarskavaig at around 9am

Wednesday’s horror began when the first victim, named locally as Mr MacKinnon’s sister-in-law, Rowena MacDonald, 32, (pictured) was stabbed at a property in the village of Tarskavaig at around 9am

Forensics officers yesterday at the scene of an incident at a property in the Dornie area of Wester Ross, on the northwest coast of Scotland

Forensics officers yesterday at the scene of an incident at a property in the Dornie area of Wester Ross, on the northwest coast of Scotland

John MacKinnon, 47, has been named locally as the victim of yesterday’s horrific gun rampage, in which a further three people were injured before police Tasered and arrested a suspect

Mr MacKinnon's (pictured right, with actor Robson Green, left) family today released a statement describing him as a 'loving husband and a much-loved member of the community'

Mr MacKinnon’s (pictured right, with actor Robson Green, left) family today released a statement describing him as a ‘loving husband and a much-loved member of the community’

An air ambulance pictured at the scene of one of the incidents in the Scottish Highlands this morning

An air ambulance pictured at the scene of one of the incidents in the Scottish Highlands this morning

Following the incident in Teangue, two locals named as osteopath John D Mackenzie, 63, and mental health nurse wife Fay, 63, (pictured together, centre) were attacked

Following the incident in Teangue, two locals named as osteopath John D Mackenzie, 63, and mental health nurse wife Fay, 63, (pictured together, centre) were attacked

Police say there were three linked incidents on Skye and the Scottish mainland which have led to the arrest of a 39-year-old man

Despite the  police presence in Dornie (pictured) on Skye, Police Scotland says there is no further risk to the community

Despite the  police presence in Dornie (pictured) on Skye, Police Scotland says there is no further risk to the community

Police confirmed yesterday that a man has been arrested and charged with the murder of Mr MacKinnon and the attempted murder of three other people. 

MacDonald is due to appear in court in Inverness today.

Shockwaves will reverberate in this rural idyll far into future

By Joe Hutchison

The shootings that left one man dead and others injured will have a major impact on local communities for ‘a long time’, a councillor has admitted.

Last night, John Finlayson, councillor for Skye and Raasay, said: ‘People across both communities, Skye and in Lochalsh, are still in shock over what has happened.

‘Yesterday everybody was in shock as things developed and this morning they were waking up to the reality of what happened and they are still in shock.

‘The community spirit is still strong. People want to support each other and they are also keen to support the families in any way they can.

‘But at the same time we need to respect the privacy of the families, and our prayers and best wishes go to them and to those who are in hospital, fighting for their lives probably.

‘What happened yesterday is going to have an impact for a long time on the individuals, but also on the communities.’

He added: ‘I have had contact with close friends and neighbours and there is obviously deep concern for those involved. We just need to make sure that the support is there for them.’

Hamish Fraser, of Broadford and Strath community council, said that the events of Wednesday were unheard of in living memory and the shockwaves would be felt across local communities for months.

Ian Blackford, MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, yesterday described it as a ‘very, very dark period’ for Skye and Lochalsh.

The SNP Westminster leader told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland: ‘These are small communities where everybody tends to know everyone and there is a real sense of shock.’

He praised the response of the emergency services and said it was important that ‘we continue to assess where we are’ in relation to firearms regulations.

‘These are very controversial topics and, in these rural areas, we’re all aware there are applications from time to time for people that have licences for guns, particularly when it comes to agricultural matters’, Mr Blackford said.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, Nationalist MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, said that the close-knit communities had been ‘shattered to our core’.

 

Mr MacKinnon’s family yesterday paid tribute to the ‘much-loved’ family man. They said in a statement: ‘John was a loving husband, father of six, brother, uncle and grandfather to his family, and was a much-loved member of the community.

‘John loved the outdoors, was a keen motorcyclist and, as a loved father, shared his activities with his family.’

Torabhaig Distillery on Skye, where Mr MacKinnon worked as a distiller for five years, was closed yesterday.

A notice at the door of the facility advised it had been forced to shut ‘unexpectedly’.

Mrs MacDonald, who is the mother of young children, was taken to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, where she was described as in a serious condition.

Last night, Mr MacKenzie remained in a ‘critical’ condition at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.

Mrs MacKenzie was taken to Broadford Hospital on Skye but was discharged yesterday.

A friend of the MacKenzies, who did not wish to be named, told how the couple’s son is travelling back from his honeymoon in Thailand to be at his father’s bedside.

The source said: ‘His son is newly married so he’s coming back, he might be here already.

‘It’s just disgusting, it’s terrible. I just can’t understand it. The community is not happy, as you can imagine.

‘John is a strong man, but he’s had some pretty bad damage. We’re hoping he can pull through.

‘I heard he was shot, possibly through the window. Fay is out, she has been discharged. I heard that she was injured by the glass shattering.

‘They have lived here for years and are both well known in the village, they’re good people.

‘He’s known on the islands too because he used to travel out every so often to treat people.

‘It’s just a shock, nothing like this has ever happened here before. A lot of people have firearms around here, but nobody has ever done something like that.’

Another Dornie local described Mr MacKenzie as a ‘nice, quiet’ man. She said: ‘He was right in with the community. He’s talented too, he used to play the pipes in a few ceilidh bands.’

Teangue resident Gordon Matheson said that the incidents had been ‘profoundly difficult’ for the community.

‘Families have suffered tremendous loss today,’ he said.

The Rev Roddie Rankin, from Plockton and Kyle Free Church, said: ‘These things violate close communities, like we have ourselves.

‘To me it feels like someone has taken an almost priceless porcelain and just dropped it and smashed it and the community is left to try to piece it together again.’

Nicola Sturgeon yesterday branded the attacks, which have rocked the ‘close-knit’ communities, ‘horrific’.

Speaking as she visited a church group in Forfar, Angus, the First Minister said: ‘I want to convey that strength of feeling to those individuals and families who will have been devastated by what has happened.

‘Obviously, the kind of incidents that happened would have been horrific and devastating in any part of the country.

‘But the kind of communities we’re talking about here are small, close-knit communities and that sense of devastation will be felt even more acutely.’

A Scottish Charity Air Ambulance flies overhead as emergency services deal with the fallout of the incidents on Skye and in Dornieon Wednesday

A Scottish Charity Air Ambulance flies overhead as emergency services deal with the fallout of the incidents on Skye and in Dornieon Wednesday

An ambulance at the scene of one of the incidents on the Isle of Skye this morning. A total of three people were injured and one man killed on Wednesday

An ambulance at the scene of one of the incidents on the Isle of Skye this morning. A total of three people were injured and one man killed on Wednesday

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, MSP for the Highlands and Islands region, said on Wednesday: ‘My heart goes out to all those affected by these appalling, related incidents on Skye and in the Lochalsh area.

‘I would like to pay tribute to the prompt response and bravery of our emergency services who managed to prevent the situation escalating further. As ever, we are in their debt.’

The incident resulted in a massive response from the emergency services, with around 14 police cars deployed to the scenes, including armed response units. A police helicopter was also involved.

Osteopath John D Mackenzie (above) was named locally as the third person injured during the gunman's rampage

Osteopath John D Mackenzie (above) was named locally as the third person injured during the gunman’s rampage

Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance was dispatched from Aberdeen to assist in the emergency response.

Ambulances and a special operations response team attended, as well as a rapid retrieval emergency team which is sent to rural areas when people are in critical need of medical attention.

Yesterday, a heightened police presence was still visible throughout the popular holiday destination. On Skye, police stood guard outside both addresses while forensics officers scoured the area.

There was a similar scene at the MacKenzies’ home, with officers expected to remain for the next few days.

At a press conference, police said that they were on hand to help local residents.

They stressed such incidents were ‘extremely rare’ and posed no threat to the wider community.

Senior officers also confirmed that the person who allegedly discharged the firearm did have a licence.

Dozens of police cars and the force helicopter were called to reports of an injured woman at a property in the Tarskavaig area

Dozens of police cars and the force helicopter were called to reports of an injured woman at a property in the Tarskavaig area

 Police officers were then alerted to reports of gunshots 26 miles away on the mainland in Dornie

A police van at the scene of one of the incidents on the Isle of Skye this morning. One man has died and three other people were injured

A police van at the scene of one of the incidents on the Isle of Skye this morning. One man has died and three other people were injured

Chief Superintendent Conrad Trickett, local policing commander for Highlands and Islands Division, said: ‘The thoughts of everyone are with the family and friends of Mr MacKinnon and the people who remain injured in hospital. These incidents took place in close-knit, rural areas and will have a significant impact not only on those directly affected, but also friends and neighbours living in these communities.

‘The policing response was significant as people would expect and involved national resources from across Scotland, including Inverness, Aberdeen, Dundee and Glasgow, being brought in to support local policing on Skye and Lochalsh.

‘Local officers who live and work in these communities brought the situation to as swift a conclusion as possible and I thank everyone involved, including colleagues from the Scottish Ambulance Service, for their outstanding efforts in responding to what was a distressing series of incidents.’

Police Scotland added that it is working closely with local partners, including Highland Council and NHS Highland, to help provide support and welfare to those affected by Wednesday’s events. Yesterday, Scottish Conservative local councillor Ruraidh Stewart, who represents Eilean a’ Cheò on Highland Council, said that members of the community remain ‘resilient’ in the face of the tragedy.

Mr Stewart said: ‘My heart breaks for the families involved in this tragedy. In Skye and Lochalsh we are a close-knit community who are shocked and saddened by today’s incident.

‘My prayers are with the bereaved families and the victims in hospital with serious injuries.

‘We are a resilient community, thankfully well supported.’

He added: ‘I would like to thank the emergency services for all their efforts and the Highland Council staff, who have helped and supported the families involved.’



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