A MAN acquitted of murder was being treated for gunshot wounds yesterday after he was blasted in both legs, in what has been described by police as a targeted attack.
Ryan Chalmers, 21, suffered serious wounds when he was hit at close range by an assailant armed with a shotgun. One local said the shooting was a punishment “kneecapping”.
The incident took place at 6:45pm on Tuesday in a park area behind the Horseshoe pub in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire.
In 2012, the father-of-one, from Airdrie, admitted fatally stabbing Christopher Bergin but was cleared of murder after claiming he acted in self-defence.
After Tuesday’s attack, the gunman fled in a dark-coloured car, driven by an accomplice, towards Airdrie.
Chalmers was taken to nearby Monklands General Hospital, where staff described his condition as stable.
The suspect is described as in his early 20s with short, dark hair and wearing dark clothing.
Senior officers reassured the public that the shooting was an isolated incident.
Detective Inspector John Lamb said: “I know this will be concerning for many local residents. However, our inquiries so far lead us to believe this was a targeted attack.
“There will still be police activity in the area with specialist officers carrying out a detailed search. Officers are also carrying out extensive enquiries and studying CCTV footage in an effort to gather further information. If anyone has any information or indeed concerns, please speak to officers on the ground.”
Police Scotland area commander Chief Inspector Rosie Wright added: “I understand the concerns people will have when they hear about this incident and I have arranged for additional officers to patrol the area.”
A forensic team was at the scene of the shooting yesterday which remained closed off to the public, with a uniformed officer standing guard. Officers could be seen searching bushes beside a path as police dogs worked alongside them.
One local said: “Last night it was just the usual people who were in the pub having a drink.
“But just before 7pm police cars turned up and cordoned off both entrances to the lane.
“People are saying he was taken down there and shot twice in the kneecaps.
“They are saying this was payback for an incident he was involved in a couple of years ago and walked away from.”
In August 2012, Chalmers walked free from court after being charged with the murder of Mr Bergin, 42, in Plains, Lanarkshire, in December 2011.
Chalmers had admitted fatally stabbing the victim but claimed that he had done so in self-defence after Mr Bergin, along with two other men, had invaded the flat in which he was living with his mother.
The jury found the charge not proven by a majority verdict after an eight-day trial at the High Court in Glasgow.
Last year, it was reported he could be tried again as the case was one of a number under review by the Crown Office as part of changes to double jeopardy laws.
In 2010, Chalmers was given community service for smashing a bus window and showering passengers with glass during a brawl on the M77..