Gardai had closed off much of the area around the Lordship Credit Union yesterday as they continued the forensic examination of the scene at Bellurgan, Co Louth.
The mother of one of the people who works at the credit union told how she rang her daughter in a panic after hearing there had been an incident in the small village – not knowing what had happened.
Ursula Mulligan's daughter Clodagh had been working late when raiders approached staff leaving the community lender in the small Dundalk townland.
Mrs Mulligan said: "I rang my daughter and she said, 'Mammy, I can't talk now, there has been a shooting.' She got an awful fright. I was sick when she told me, sick. Its dreadful, we're all in shock.
"I was at an anniversary Mass last night, so I wasn't home. It was only when I came home that I heard it all
"My daughter couldn't go to the Mass because she was working up in the credit union.
"They got in loads of new computers this week, so they had to work late, it was a busy week.
"When I got home I heard all the sirens from the gardai and the ambulances passing. I knew something had happened but I thought it was a road accident."
The dead garda's two small children go to Bellurgan National School, which is directly opposite the credit union.
Riverstown post office, which is based in Sheelan's Shop, has been held up by armed gangs twice in the last two months.
Just two weeks ago the local newspaper, the Argos, reported that two armed and masked men entered the shop while a third man waited outside, keeping watch in an MPV that had been stolen from Kildare the previous month.
No one was injured in the raid – but the terrified staff and customers were threatened with a gun and a hammer by the callous raiders.
Mrs Mulligan said: "This is the main road to Carlingford, so it's a very busy road but we are very quiet along here.
"There would be some robberies in the area though. There was a post office robbed a few weeks ago. They held a gun to one of the staff.
"We're so close to the (M1) motorway and when they get to the motorway you don't know which way they are going to go – they could go to Dublin or up North.
"The garda station is closed a few years now. The closest one was in Carrickdale but now the closest one is in Dundalk."
Another neighbour said she had been burgled three times in recent years.