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Gay Journalist Lyra McKee Killed in 'Terrorist Incident'

Lyra McKee

McKee died covering riots in Northern Ireland after a gunman shot her while firing on police.

Gay journalist Lyra McKee was shot dead Thursday in Northern Ireland in what authorities call a terrorist attack.

"The death of Lyra McKee in last night's suspected terrorist incident in Londonderry is shocking and truly senseless," said U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May. "My deepest condolences go to her family, friends and colleagues."

"She was a journalist who died doing her job with great courage," May continued.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland will treat the murder as a terrorist act by "violent dissident Republicans," according to The Telegraph. Authorities suspect the New IRA to be behind the attack.

"Unfortunately, at 11 p.m. last night, a gunman appeared and fired a number of shots towards police and a young woman, Lyra McKee, 29 years old, was wounded," Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said in a press conference.

"She was taken away in a police Land Rover to Altnagelvin Hospital, but unfortunately she has died there. We have now launched a murder inquiry here in the city."

McKee, an editor and contributor for Mediagazer and The Sunday Long Read, was covering riots in the Derry area when she was shot while standing next to a police SUV. She previously covered the North Ireland conflict for outlets around the world, including The Atlantic,Mosaic Science, and BuzzFeed.

The National Union of Journalists condemned the murder.

"The killing of a journalist in these circumstances is deeply shocking. To wake up to this news on Good Friday morning is disturbing and profoundly saddening," said NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet. "A young, vibrant life has been destroyed in a senseless act of violence. Our thoughts are with her partner, family, and many friends and colleagues."

"A bright light has been quenched and that plunges all of us in to darkness," Stainistreet continued.

An article she wrote about the abuse and support she received while growing up gay titled "Letter to My 14-Year-Old Self" was widely read online and made into a short film.

McKee's first novella, Angels With Blue Faces, is set to publish this year. Another book, The Lost Boys, is slated for a 2020 release.

"I can't believe you're gone," said literary agent Will Francis on Twitter. "You were talented, kind, funny and brave and I am devastated to have lost you. The past isn't even past."

Priest Joseph Gormley told the BBC he met with McKee's partner and family at Altnagelvin Hospital, where McKee died. All were heartbroken, he said.

"[McKee's family] just thought it was somebody else, it had to be somebody else -- it wasn't Lyra," Gormley said. "I would love if those people who had fired those shots came over and saw what they did in Altnagelvin last night, if they came over and saw that scene of a young woman and her family."

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