A man who died after being gunned down in cold blood in the car park of a Dublin pub had just finished dining with his wife in a restaurant upstairs, it has emerged.
Darren Kearns (33) was with his wife when he was gunned down in the car park as he sat in the passenger seat of their car after leaving the Phoenix Chinese restaurant above Cumiskey's pub.
Members of the public were in the car park when the murder took place.
Inspector Tony Twomey from Blanchardstown garda station today appealed for witnesses or anybody with information to come forward.
He also sought information on a light coloured 5 Series BMW with the registration plate 04D 35151 which was found abandoned and burned out off Regal Park which is off Blackhorse Avenue a short distance away from where the shooting occurred.
"We believe there may have been people seen fleeing Regal Park in a car following the burning out of the BMW," said Ins Twomey.
"They may also have been in the area of Regal Park before the shooting," he added.
Kearns was only recently released from prison after serving a six-year sentence for drug offences.
Yesterday evening's brutal shooting occurred outside the pub shortly after 5.30pm.
Customers at the Chinese restaurant above the premises were arriving for dinner when they heard the gunshots.
"We heard seven or eight shots as we arrived but we didn't see anything and thought it was just fireworks going off," said one restaurant-goer.
The witness and his partner were bringing a young child with them to have a meal together at the restaurant.
"The shots were very close together. There were a lot of shots. But because we thought it was fireworks we went and began our meal at the restaurant. It was only when we went outside that we saw all the guards in the car park," the witness said.
"No one inside the restaurant seemed to realise what had happened and they continued eating," his partner added.
The pub and restaurant were later closed as gardai began an investigation.
Locals spoke of seeing people trying to help the victim as he lay on the ground. Paramedics from Dublin Fire Brigade treated Kearns at the scene before he was rushed to hospital.
"The customers in the restaurant did not know about the shooting but then some began to get messages about what had happened," said a waiter at the restaurant.
A staff member at the pub expressed her shock.
"I was not working when it happened but I came down to the pub as soon as I heard. Nothing like this has ever happened at the pub," she said.
"It's a quiet family pub and several children would often be brought by their parents for a meal. It's really shocking," she added.
A post-mortem examination on Kearns's remains is due to take place this morning.
Gardai said a burnt-out car was located in a laneway off Regal Park on Blackhorse Avenue and appealed for witnesses to contact them at Cabra Garda Station on 01 6667400.
Kearns, from Ashington in Cabra, was jailed in March, 2012, after pleading guilty to the possession of cannabis herb with a street value of €1.76m in August 2010.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Darren Kearns was spending €1,000-a-day on cocaine at the time of the offence and had built up a debt of €180,000.
He told gardai that he had been forced to transport the drugs to Newry to reduce his drugs debt by €2,000.