THE wife of an off-duty garda shot in a mugging in New Orleans is travelling to the US today to be by her husband's bedside.
Gda Brian Hanrahan (31) remains in the intensive care unit of University Hospital New Orleans after undergoing emergency surgery to remove a bullet lodged in his back.
His wife, Emma, had earlier been comforted by family, friends and colleagues.
The father of one, who is stationed in Newcastle West, Co Limerick, was enjoying a driving holiday with his father, covering part of the famous Route 66, when he was shot twice, in the lower back and thigh, at around 5.40am on Tuesday.
The off-duty garda had stood up to his attacker, who demanded money. When Gda Hanrahan refused, he was shot twice, before his assailant fled on foot with the cash.
The native of Killenaule, Co Tipperary, was conscious when police officers arrived and was able to give them a good description of his attacker, whom he described as a black man aged around 40, wearing a grey shirt and dark-coloured baseball cap.
He had met another man who brought him to the area, telling him he knew a place they could get a drink.
The garda had withdrawn $200 from an ATM and told police when they reached the location he encountered another man who asked him for money.
A spokesman for New Orleans Police Department said to date, no arrest had been made and detectives had been unable to locate the victim's wallet at the scene.
Locals in Newcastle West, where Gda Hanrahan has made his home, were shocked to hear he had been injured.
A garda source described him as an "exemplary garda, who was extremely hardworking, brave and popular".
Gda Hanrahan had been one of the main investigators in a major drugs haul in Clarina in which €180,000 worth of heroin was recovered.
Newcastle West traffic warden Joe Dore described the garda as a "lovely man" who was well known and respected.
Jimmy Lee, director of the Knights of West Fest, said: "I couldn't speak highly enough of Brian. He's involved in so many groups locally and is always of great assistance."
Meanwhile, Matt Murphy, owner of the Irish House restaurant in New Orleans is organising a fundraiser.
"He's away from home, but there's a big Irish community in New Orleans. We won't raise a million dollars, but at least it will go some way towards helping the family," he said.