A man was ambushed and shot up to four times in a gangland-style shooting in the driveway of his home last night.
The victim, who was named locally as Tony O'Connor, was shot by a lone gunman in the Mill Close estate in Stamullen, Co Meath.
It is understood the gunman was waiting for him when he returned yesterday at around 7pm. When the victim got out of a car the gunman opened fire at least seven times, hitting the victim up to four times in the upper body.
Mr O'Connor was rushed to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda where his condition is believed to be serious.
Several bullet holes in the windscreen of a black Volvo car were visible last night as shocked locals milled around the scene.
Gardaí are investigating the possible involvement of a notorious hitman, and that the attack may have been a case of mistaken identity.
A 20-year-old local man said neighbours came to the victim's aid following the shooting.
"I ran over and I saw the man crunched over on his hands and knees. About four people were around him and it looked like they were putting pressure on his wounds," he said.
A 34-year-old man who was in a house near the scene said "I heard four or five shots. The shots were in very quick succession."
He said gardai were very quick getting to the scene of the shooting.
"The ambulance was there. I saw the man being taken away on a stretcher.
"He was lying on his side on the stretcher and he was grimacing.
"I didn't see any blood."
He went on to say: "The garda Emergency Response Unit was here in their full gear and guns."
"People were standing around. Everyone was very shocked.
"It's not something you see every day," he said
There was local outrage that the lives of local children could have been put in danger by the fusillade of bullets.
A local mother grabbed her little child and carried the child into her home moments after the shooting.
"The children usually play with a little goalposts right at the spot where it happened," said a 47-year-old local man.
"It was very lucky that the children weren't there this evening," he said.
A 77-year-old woman said "A woman ran and grabbed her child off the street after it happened.
"The chap who was shot was lying on the ground.
"It's an absolute miracle that no children were hurt. Those people have no regard for the likes of children or anyone," she said.
It is believed Mr O'Connor is originally from north Dublin but has been living in Co Meath for some time. The victim is not known by gardaí to be involved in organised crime.
This is the third gun attack in the area in recent times. Last September, shots were fired at a house in the Mill Close estate.
A single bullet hit the front door of a house when a gunman struck at around 1am. No one was injured in the incident.
It is believed there was another shooting in the area only three months ago.
Green Party councillor Tom Kelly said it was shocking that someone would target a residential area where children could be in danger.
"The people of Stamullen are saddened at such a vicious attack," he said. "Stamullen is a peaceful and quiet area and this shooting has caused upset to a lot of people. I'm very sad for the family of the victim and I hope he makes a full recovery."