Police killer Dale Cregan could face questioning after a boxer with strong links to one of East Manchester’s most notorious crime families was targeted by hitmen in a gangland execution.
Kieran McGrath, 26, was gunned down after leaving the Sheldon Arms Pub on Saturday night around 10.25.
Despite suffering life-threatening injuries, McGrath, a keen boxer, managed to climb into his car and drive himself to a nearby police station.
Officers found him lying face down on the ground, after he collapsed, and called paramedics to save him, but he was later pronounced dead at the scene.
Police have confirmed that McGrath, also known as Kieran Murphy, had been involved in a string of disputes and are keeping an ‘open mind’ as to the motives behind the ‘targeted attack’.
And earlier today it emerged McGrath, of Clayton, Manchester, had strong links with the notorious Short crime family, who had been locked in a bloody turf feud with Cregan and his gang.
Detective Chief Superintendent Russ Jackson of Greater Manchester Police, said: “We are very much in the early stages of the investigation, however, with what we know now it does seem pretty clear to have been a targeted attack.
GUNNED DOWN: Kieran McGrath is said to have engaged in a number of disputes prior to the shooting
“We are keeping a really open mind as to why this happened but we also have to bear in mind that Kieran has had fall outs with people over the past year.
“I know people will remember the very tragic events in Manchester and Tameside in recent years and inevitably people will ask if there is a connection.
“For clarity at this time, we have nothing at all to suggest this is connected but we will of course be keeping an open mind.”
Cregan, now 31, is serving four whole life sentences for a string of murders including two police officers.
In May 2012 he shot dead Mark Short, 23, in the Cotton Tree pub in Ashton-under-Lyne ,and three months later killed his father and head of the family David, 42, in a gun and grenade attack.
While on the run for the double killing Cregan lured two police officers, Fiona Bone, 32, and Nicola Hughes, 23, to a hideout where he was staying before shooting them both dead.
NOTORIOUS: David Short (left) and Mark Short were involved in a bitter feud with Cregan’s gang
Det Chief Supt Jackson added: “We really need to understand the full details of these so that we can understand any potential motive.
“What we do know so far is this. Kieran had been inside the Sheldon Arms Pub with friends. At around 10:20pm, he walked out of the main entrance of the pub and onto the car park before walking to a white Audi A3.
“Almost immediately after leaving the pub we believe several shots were fired in his direction and we believe at least one hit him.
“Kieran, despite his injuries, managed to drive himself to the police station on Manchester Road where he was found collapsed on the floor by police officers. Officers and paramedics attempted to revive him but unfortunately he was pronounced dead within minutes.”
A post mortem is currently ongoing but police believe McGrath died of a gunshot wound.
Police are now appealing to the public to come forward with any information.
EXECUTED: Fiona Bone (left) and Nicola Hughes were lured to an address and shot dead by Cregan
Det Chief Supt Jackson added: “We don’t know how long the attacker or attackers were there or how they got away, it may have been in a car or on a motorbike and we would ask people to think especially about this.
“Did you see a speeding car or motorbike? Did you see one parked up looking like it had been abandoned?
“Can I ask anyone who may have been in the Lord Sheldon pub that night or in the car park and may have witnessed what happened, to contact police as soon as possible.
“Attacks like this shock us all. Police and local people need to work together to bring those responsible to justice and stop violence like this happening on our streets.”
Anyone with information should contact Police on 0161 856 4711 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.