One man died and three people were injured in a spate of knife and gun attacks on Wednesday which have “shattered” a tight-knit Highland community “to its core”.
A 47-year-old was pronounced dead at a home in the Teangue area on Skye, after a firearm was discharged, at shortly after 9.30am on Wednesday morning.
Around 30 minutes earlier, a 32-year-old woman was seriously injured at a property and was airlifted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow for treatment.
Officers later attended a home in the Dornie area in Wester Ross following further reports of gunshots, with a man and a woman injured in that incident.
The man was taken to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness with “serious injuries” while a woman was taken to Broadford Hospital on Skye.
A 39-year-old has been arrested in connection with all of the incidents, which police said they were treating as linked. He was also taken to Raigmore Hospital.
There was unconfirmed speculation on Wednesday night that the attacks had been linked to a family dispute. Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader and the local MP, said he had been told by police that “firearms and knives” had been involved.
Kate Forbes, who is the SNP’s finance secretary and represents the area at Holyrood, described Wednesday’s events as “simply devastating”.
“This is the worst day that I can ever recall in the history of Skye and Lochalsh, and I can only hope we will never see another day like it again,” Ms Forbes said.
“I cannot begin to imagine what the family and friends who have lost a loved one are going through, and they should be in all our thoughts and prayers right now. We grieve with them.”
She added: “West Highland communities are close-knit, we are warm and welcoming, and this will shatter us to the core. It feels like our very heart has been ripped apart.
“I, and I am sure many others, never thought we would see such an awful day. Not a single West Highland home will be untouched by this terrible tragedy.”
A dozen police cars including armed response units and the force helicopter were deployed to the popular tourist destination, which had been enjoying a busy summer season.
Skye attracts 500,000 visitors a year with such natural features as The Fairy Pools and The Old Man of Storr.
The distance between the three incidents is some 55 miles, much of it on single track roads. Dornie is separated from Skye by the island’s famous bridge.
Mr Blackford, who lives on Skye, called for a review of the incident to find if any lessons could be learned from it in relation to firearms.
“This is dreadful and shocking news – especially for a place like Skye and Lochalsh,” he told The Press and Journal.
“I have been kept informed of the events and I understand a firearm and knives were involved.”
Mr Blackford later told Radio Forth News: “We don’t have an awful lot of crime in these areas.
“For people to hear the news of these incidents that have taken place in three separate occasions, I think it’s really shocked the place to the core, it’s shocked people that this sort of thing can happen.
“It’s a terrible, terrible day that these things have come to Skye and Lochalsh.”
The Scottish Ambulance Service said multiple ambulances, air ambulances, a special operations response team and an emergency medical retrieval service team attended the scenes.
Bill Lobban, Convener for the Highland Council, said that support would be offered “in every way possible” to members of local communities caught up in the tragedy.
“We are thankful to our emergency services colleagues for bringing this very serious and shocking incident to a close,” he said.
“The communities of Skye and Dornie will be shocked and saddened by these incidents and our thoughts are with the individuals affected.”
Douglas Ross, the Scottish Tory leader, also paid tribute to emergency services. “My heart goes out to all those affected by these appalling, related incidents on Skye and in the Lochalsh area,” he said.
“I’d like to pay tribute to the prompt response and bravery of our emergency services who managed to prevent the situation escalating further. As ever, we are in their debt.”
Police Scotland on Wednesday night issued a call for anyone with information about the incidents to come forward.
“Incidents such as this are thankfully extremely rare but I understand that this will have a significant effect on the local community in these rural areas,” Chief Superintendent Conrad Trickett, local policing commander for the force’s Highlands and Islands Division, said.
“I would like to reassure people that we are treating these incidents as contained with no wider threat to the public.
“There will a significant police presence in the area over the coming days and we will be working with partners to provide support to the local community. I would like to thank people for their co-operation as our investigation progresses.”
A spokesman for Police Scotland said earlier on Wednesday: “We were made aware of a woman injured at a property in the Tarskavaig area on Skye shortly before 9am on Wednesday, August 10.
“Police are also attending two further incidents in Teangue on Skye and Dornie which are being linked.
“A 39-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incidents. At this stage we believe the situation is contained and there is no risk to the wider community. Enquiries are ongoing.”