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Tuesday, 13 February, 2001, 17:09 GMT
Witness compares chaos to 'Dodge City'
Civil rights march
The shootings followed a civil rights march in Derry
A US serviceman's wife has told the Bloody Sunday inquiry it was like the wild west's 'Dodge City' when paratroopers opened fire on civilians after a civil rights march in Londonderry.

Thirteen people were shot dead on 30 January 1972. Another man died later in hospital.

The inquiry in Derry's Guildhall is chaired by Lord Saville and began hearing evidence in March 2000 about the events of that day.

On Tuesday Susan Hanson told how she and her three children were living with her mother in the Bogside while her husband was serving with the US Navy in Vietnam.

She described her relatives cowering in her aunt's flat as shooting by soldiers went on outside.

She said: "It was like Dodge City. They were firing live ammunition in the direction of the crowds at the southern end of Rossville Street."

Boy shot at 'very close range'

Mrs Hanson recalled seeing a boy of between 12 and 16 running across waste ground before being caught by four or five soldiers who started hitting him with the butts of their rifles.

"The boy was then held up by one soldier on each side", she said.

"I saw the soldier who had been chasing him aim his rubber bullet gun directly at the boy and I saw him shoot the boy in the stomach at very close range."


It was like Dodge City, they were firing live ammunition in the direction of the crowds

Susan Hanson

Mrs Hanson said she thought the boy was dead as saw him thrown into an army Saracen.

She said when she got back to her mother's home after things calmed down people were dazed and crying.

"The people in the march were just regular people" she said.

"Because my husband was in the military, I was normally pro-military.

However, these were innocent civilians that the soldiers had been shooting at that day and it was wrong".

Later, under cross examination by a lawyer for some of the soldiers involved in Bloody Sunday, Mrs Hanson accused him of "badgering" her as he repeatedly questioned her evidence.

'Pound of flesh'

Another witness Gerry McBride told the inquiry there had been a "holiday atmosphere" at the beginning of the march.


It would not have mattered if they were lions because I would have gone in anyway

Gerry McBride
He said he "wanted to get involved in the riot".

"I knew what was happening was not going to be a picnic", he said.

"We all knew the sequence of these riots."

Mr McBride recalled seeing two soldiers standing near the rear of an army Saracen and headed towards them.

He said they did not scare him because they were "not particularly well-built".

But he commented: "It would not have mattered if they were lions because I would have gone in anyway.

"My intention was to go in and get a pound of flesh, but some other men ran in and got there before me - they had all the luck."

Mr McBride said he then saw a woman - whom he later discovered to be Peggy Deery - lying on the ground with a bullet wound in the thigh.

"I could hear her cry of pain and knew she was in agony."

Body after body

He and two other men pulled the woman towards a wall from where they sheltered from the shooting.

Mr McBride gave a account of how he came across body after body as he continued through Rossville Flats.

He described finding the body of Paddy Doherty first: "As I looked at him I realised he was dead but I could not figure out whether he had been shot or not because there was not a lot of blood on him.

He then spotted a bullet hole just above the man's belt.

He went on to the body of Barney McGuigan who was only identified when someone pulled an envelope out of his coat picket with his name on it.

The next body he came to was that of Hugh Gilmore.

"I called out because I saw the body move which must have been because of its nerves", he said.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's Paul McCauley
recounts the evidence from Susan Hanson
See also:

01 Feb 01 | Northern Ireland
First Bloody Sunday killing recalled
29 Jan 01 | Northern Ireland
Thousands attend Bloody Sunday rally
26 Jan 01 | Northern Ireland
McGuinness will give inquiry evidence
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