Man shot in the face by garda during planned Garda operation
A MAN suspected by gardai to be a member of a Lithuanian crime gang has been shot in the face by an armed garda during a planned operation in Limerick.
The man, who is in his 30s, is in a critical condition in hospital after being shot at close range by the garda near Foynes in the early hours of the morning.
While details are only emerging it is understood the gun was discharged accidentally as members of the Regional Support Unit (RSU) moved in to arrest the occupants of a car which had been tracked from north Cork following a robbery.
The incident occurred near Foynes, at a townland near Shanagolden, at around 2.30am this morning.
The shot man was rushed to Limerick University Hospital after the emergency services were called immediately.
There were a number of gardai in the area at the time involved in an organised operation targeting crime gangs.
The operation was being conducted by the Regional Support Unit based in Cork who were tracking the movements of a car into Limerick.
As the RSU followed the car, which was suspected to have been used in a robbery in North Cork earlier, they radioed ahead to Limerick units to set up a roadblock to stop the suspect vehicle.
Early reports say that as the unit moved in on the car to make arrests one of the garda guns discharged and one of the two occupants of the car was shot in the face.
The second man was arrested.
The offices of the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) have been informed of the incident and will now begin an investigation.
The incident was referred to GSOC under section 102 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, which provides for independent investigation of “any matter that appears to indicate that the conduct of a member of the Garda Síochána may have resulted in the death of, or serious harm to, a person”.
The man's condition is reported this morning as stable.
The incident happened on the R521 road between Shanagolden and Newcastle West near to a crossroads known locally as Jobbers Cross.
The road was closed after the incident and locals reported seeing garda vehicles and another car on the road.
Broken glass from a car window could be seen on the roadway after the road was re-opened - the only indication that something had happened.
“We didn’t hear a thing and we live close by,” said one woman.
“When I looked out the window early this morning I thought there had been an accident or something, but it is a straight stretch of road so I knew that was unlikely. Then I heard about the shooting on the news,” she added.
The man’s condition in hospital was aid to have stabilised this morning but he was still described as being in a critical condition.
The incident is being investigated by GSOC because it involves members of the Gardai, who cannot be involved in investigating its own activities.