British soldier killed in bike tour of Ngong' Hills

Police say attackers wanted to rob him of his valuables and cash but he resisted

In Summary

• Officials confirmed Major Kevin McCool, 32, was killed while on a motorbike trip away from base.

• He was due to leave Kenya in three days.

Crime Scene
Crime Scene

New details have emerged of where ‘exceptional' British soldier was shot dead in Kenya while off duty.

Officials confirmed Major Kevin McCool, 32, was killed while on a motorbike trip away from base.

He was riding his motorcycle at Ngong Hills, about 25km from Nairobi when he was confronted by two gunmen.

Police say they wanted to rob him of his valuables and cash but he put up resistance even as the attackers pointed a gun at him.

Ngong Hills is a popular place for many professional riders.

Police said McCool was on a bike trip away from the base, preparing for the end of his tour of duty on November 29 when the incident happened.  He was due to leave Kenya in three days.

The attackers escaped soon after the shooting before McCool was picked up and taken to hospital, where he succumbed to the injuries, police said.

Fellow riders said the area he was shot is not safe even at day time.

“Kevin McCool rider No 7 was apparently shot in attempted mugging on Ngong Hills last week. We thought his condition was stable but sadly he didn’t pull through. Please be careful riding on the Ngong Hills. We have reason to believe the security situation up there is not safe,” a rider said.

The area is usually used by riders for training purposes and McCool was not new there.

A special squad has since been set up to pursue the attackers.

The team visited the scene of shooting for the second time on Saturday as part of the probe into the attack.

An officer in the team said they are pursuing good leads. 

“He had come all the way for the training before he could leave then these people killed him. We will get them,” one officer who asked not to be named said.

Britain's army has a permanent training support unit of around 100 staff in Kenya, with an extra short-tour cohort of around 280.

Mainly based in Nanyuki, about 300km from Nairobi, the army's camp provides "demanding training to exercising units preparing to deploy on operations or assume high-readiness tasks".

McCool's father paid a tribute to his 'special son' who was 'adored' by his fellow officers.

"He decided to go out on his scrambler motorbike for one last ride up a local mountain," he said.

"He went up a road and two guys jumped out at him with a gun. It seems that he thought the gun was a dummy, he didn't think it was real. He made the mistaken assumption that the gun was artificial, and they shot him."

Major McCool, from Northern Ireland was commissioned from Sandhurst in 2014 and saw service in Europe, the Middle East, the Falklands, and Africa.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps termed Maj McCool's death as a "tragic loss".

"It's clear from the tributes of those who knew him that Maj McCool was an exceptional person and an exceptional soldier, loved and respected in equal measure, who served his country with distinction."

The MoD said Maj McCool died on 29 November.

"As well as a glittering operational record, he also aced many of the military's hardest courses," the MoD said in a eulogy.

"His fitness was legendary, once beating the whole Battalion on a two miler, as was his endurance. His enthusiasm was infectious. He had a mischievous twinkle in his eye, that made him tremendous fun to be with. Yet his professionalism and sense of purpose was paramount, and clear to all those lucky enough to serve with him."

Maj McCool has been described as a "big family man" and his commanding officer paid tribute to him as a man "of the utmost integrity".

"I will never forget my final memory of him, which was on operations; he had just come off the ground having slept a handful of hours in as many days," the officer said.

"We discussed the possibility of having to deploy another team into the operational furnace from which he had just come. He stopped me mid-sentence, fixed me with his piercing blue eyes, and simply said, 'send me'. A bright light has gone out amongst our ranks. He will be missed, but never forgotten."

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