Tuesday 24 April 2018

At the scene: Screaming from children heard as gunmen carried out brutal attack

The scene of the shooting at Balbutcher Drive, Ballymun, yesterday. Photo: Colin O’Riordan
The scene of the shooting at Balbutcher Drive, Ballymun, yesterday. Photo: Colin O’Riordan

Robin Schiller and Cathal McMahon

A GRANDMOTHER has described how children could be heard screaming in the home where two gunmen unleashed an indiscriminate attack, killing two people and leaving another two injured.

The shocking double gun murder was carried out at Balbutcher Drive, a community in the Ballymun area of the capital.

Residents expressed their disbelief at the barbarity of the shooting which claimed the lives of a mother-of-six and a man in his 30s, in front of a young child.

Carmel Byrne told how there were children screaming when the attack occurred yesterday afternoon.

She told the Irish Independent: “It was like a machine gun going off. My daughter came out to me and said, ‘did you hear that?’

“I could hear the babies screaming. I think there were around five young children in the house.

“We saw a fellow jump over the wall. There was only one of them there that I saw.

“How could they do this? How could they do it with the babies there?”

Ms Byrne told how she tried in vain to save one of the gun victims.

“She [female victim] was in the hall when I got there. I told everybody to ‘get the f**k out’ in case he was going to come back,” she said.

“The chap was in the car. I kept the pressure on, I kept him alive. He was alone in the car, in the driver’s seat.

“He was shot in the hand, heart and chest. He had a pulse when I was with him but it was only a faint pulse. There was a lot of blood.”

She continued: “There was another fellow begging me to keep him going.

“The guards and the ambulance were there in a few minutes.

“Everybody was hysterical down there.”

Ms Byrne, a mother-of-five, said there were two others injured in the area but “they seemed fine”.

A large number of uniformed and armed gardaí descended on the area following reports of a shooting.

Several members of the Armed Support Unit (ASU) patrolled the vicinity in the aftermath of the double murder, while senior gardaí, including Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy, also attended the scene.  

A large crowd of around 100 locals gathered on both sides of the garda cordon which had been erected on Balbutcher Drive.

Some of the onlookers were young children, many of whom were playing on the streets nearby when the shooting took place.

Locals expressed their disbelief at the barbarity of the killings.

“It’s shocking,” one local man who witnessed the gunmen escape said.

“I saw the lads running down the steps after getting out of the car. They were wearing balaclavas.

“I heard the shots and all. It must have been a machine gun.

“They got into another car on the road nearby and tore off.”

A blue tent was placed over the fatally wounded man, who was wearing navy tracksuit bottoms and white running shoes.

Medical paraphernalia could also be seen scattered around the murder victim, after paramedics had attempted to resuscitate him.   

A silver Opel Zafira, which gardaí believe was used in the shooting, was also abandoned on the road.

Slight burn marks could be seen on both sides of the vehicle, showing the failed attempt the gunmen had made to torch the car in the incident’s aftermath.

Local TD Róisín Shortall said the incident followed heightened tensions in the Ballymun area.

“(The) events are shocking and a huge disappointment to the many community leaders and residents in Ballymun who are building a peaceful community in which families can rear their children in safety, older people can feel secure in their homes and people can go about their ordinary business without fear,” Ms Shortall said.

“It is also a serious setback to local gardaí who have been doing their best to contain this kind of activity.”

The housing estate is located directly beside the O’Cualain affordable homes. It also looks on to the popular IKEA store, adjacent to the M50 motorway.

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