Birmingham & Black Country

Marlon O'Reilly shooting: 'Mistaken identity', say police

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Media captionCousin Hayley O'Reilly said it was "a mindless act"

A father shot dead in a West Midlands pub was a victim of mistaken identity, police have confirmed.

Marlon O'Reilly, 33, was shot at The Dovecote pub in Cockshut Hill, Sheldon, where he had been drinking with friends on Friday evening.

West Midlands Police believed he was shot because he was wearing a similar T-shirt to the intended target.

Police were linking the shooting with a man being slashed with a knife at a Sheldon gym earlier on Friday.

Several people have been arrested and bailed in connection with the gym incident.

Mr O'Reilly, who was studying graphic design, would have been 34 on the following day and had two sons, aged 15 and nine.

'Chasm in our hearts'

The West Midlands force disclosed the intended target was unharmed and was now being "safeguarded" by police.

Appealing for information, Hayley O'Reilly said her cousin was a "loving father, son and brother", his death had left his family and friends devastated and it was "a mindless act".

She said: "They were after somebody who was wearing the same T-shirt as Marlon and that's why Marlon was murdered.

Image caption Marlon O'Reilly was "just having a quiet drink", police said

"For his mum's sake, I ask anybody who knows anything to help the police.

"The chasm left in our hearts is immeasurable as this person who meant so much to us and brought so much fun, laughter and happiness has been taken away in such a brutal fashion."

The offender, described as a well-built white man wearing blue clothing, fled from the scene on a high-powered motorbike.

A number of lines of inquiry were being followed up.

Ch Supt Alex Murray, from West Midlands Police, said Mr O'Reilly was there "just having a quiet drink".

He said: "The gunman went in [to the pub] with the intention of killing someone and we believe it's highly likely that he killed the wrong person.

"It appears that fate has dealt a very cruel hand to this family in this incident.

"If you can imagine losing your son or a friend to a horrendous murder like this and then finding out it was a case of mistaken identity - it's truly terrible."

'True gent'

Ch Supt Murray declined to say how many shots had been fired inside the pub.

Earlier, friends and family gathered near the pub and released 33 balloons in memory of Mr O'Reilly.

Bunches of flowers from friends and loved ones were left outside.

A card on one read: "Marlon, you will never be forgotten, always in our hearts and thoughts."

Another said: "Goodnight, God bless" with one mourner addressing their card: "To 'my brother' Marlon".

A solitary black balloon left at the scene displayed the words "A true gent - RIP".

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