Mystery surrounds fatal shooting
A GARDA officer grabbed a shotgun while his female sergeant pepper sprayed their assailant as they bravely evaded a gun attack from a suspected drink driver.
The Irish Independent has learned that after disarming the gunman of a shotgun, Garda Gerry Brassil and Sergeant Deborah Marsh raced for cover as Anthony McMahon (44) -- who was partially blinded from the spray -- shot wildly at them with a second gun in Newport, Co Tipperary, on Monday night.
An investigation by the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission continued last night after Mr McMahon -- a keen hunter -- took his own life during a horrific ordeal which included shots being fired at the two officers at point-blank range.
Investigators are still mystified as to why the self-employed taxi driver opened fire -- but there has been widespread praise for the response of the two unarmed officers, who escaped without serious physical injuries.
Newport residents and colleagues of Gda Brassil and Sgt Marsh fear there could have been more than one fatality had it not been for their quick actions.
Mr McMahon -- who also worked as a carpet fitter -- was signalled to stop by gardai as he approached Newport on the Thurles road after they received a report about a motorist driving erratically.
Gda Brassil approached the van and the Irish Independent has learned that Mr McMahon -- who was the sole occupant of the vehicle -- grabbed a double- barrelled shotgun and pointed it directly at the officer, who had spotted it and asked whether it was loaded.
The garda managed to push the barrel of the gun away from his head as a shot was discharged.
A struggle then took place as Gda Brassil attempted to disarm Mr McMahon. It is understood that, at one stage, Gda Brassil -- a respected officer who has been based in Newport for 15 years -- held his finger against the trigger to prevent another gunshot.
Sgt Marsh raced to her colleague's aid and a canister of pepper spray was sprayed at Mr McMahon's face but he refused to give up the weapon.
A second gunshot was discharged through the roof of the van as the struggle continued before Gda Brassil -- who was also struck in the face with the shotgun -- gained control of the weapon.
Mr McMahon then produced a high-powered rifle and pointed it towards Sgt Marsh. Another shot was discharged, but the sergeant escaped injury.
The officers sprinted for cover. Gda Brassil crouched behind the front of the garda car as Mr McMahon opened fire with the rifle and shot blindly at the officers from the driver's seat of the van. The patrol car was hit at least four times, with one shot passing through the back and front windscreen.
He then discharged a final shot, wounding himself fatally in the head.
Mr McMahon is originally from the Janesboro area of Limerick city and comes from a well-respected family.
Until last year, he lived in the Limerick city suburbs at Monaleen Park and would socialise at the Monaleen GAA club. Last year he moved to a bungalow in a rural area outside the Tipperary village of Rearcross.
It is understood that he has not worked as a taxi driver following an accident involving his car over Christmas -- it has since been off the road.
Gun cartridges were found at the house in Rearcross by gardai as part of follow-up investigations.
The two guns were licensed to Mr McMahon who was permitted to hold up to four guns. It has not yet been established why Mr McMahon had the weapons in his van with him.
He regularly went hunting and was also said to be a "devoted father" to his son.
The deceased man's family did not wish to comment when contacted.
Both officers are said to be severely traumatised following their ordeal.