Witness to terrifying attack on gardai says brave officers deserve commendation
THE only witness to a dramatic gun attack on two gardai has revealed how the gunman took aim at the female officer as she collapsed on the road before she managed to escape.
Shane O’Brien said he cannot believe that Sergeant Deborah Marsh and Garda Gerry Brassil escaped with their lives after a number of shots were fired at them by the man who had a shotgun and a rifle.
Mr O’Brien, from Newport, Co Tipperary, said he heard Gda Brassil roar at Anthony McMahon (44) not to pick up his loaded gun after the motorist was stopped on suspicion of drink-driving on Monday night.
Mr O’Brien took cover behind a pillar at the entrance to his cottage as McMahon took aim at Sgt Marsh and Gda Brassil.
Speaking exclusively to the Irish Independent, Mr O’Brien said he went outside his home after McMahon was signaled to stop his van.
“I saw some blue lights flashing outside. To be honest with you, I was nosy and went outside to investigate what was going on,” he said. He walked to the entrance of his drive.
“There is a pillar just outside my wall and I went out that far. I stood there. I saw the whole thing.
“I could see the lady garda at the front of the car. I could hear another male voice – I presume the male garda and he was saying: ‘Don’t go for the gun, don’t go for the gun’.” Gda Brassil wrestled with McMahon for control of the shotgun while Sgt Marsh pepper-sprayed him.
“I could see a bit of a scuffle. There was a struggle. There was a few shots – gunshots had gone off at this stage. One of guards grabbed one of the guns off him.”
After Sgt Marsh fell to the ground, Mr O’Brien witnessed the gunman take aim at her with another weapon – a rifle he also had in the car. “Whatever happened then, the lady guard fell down,” Mr O’Brien said.
“He grabbed another gun inside in the van. He was trying to shoot them. “I could see the gun coming out the window – he did go to shoot her.”
The two officers raced for their lives with Gda Brassil using the front of the patrol car for protection, while Sgt Marsh ran towards the frightened resident.
“She (Sgt Marsh) came running back up to me. She saw me here at the pillar – there was another shot or two. She hid down behind the pillar with me,” Mr O’Brien said.
Sgt Marsh had dropped her phone during the struggle with her assailant “She asked did I have a phone. So I ran in, I got my phone and I dialled 999 for her. She got through to the emergency response and she called for back-up.”
Mr O’Brien said Sgt Marsh bravely ran back onto the road to stop other cars from entering the scene. “We didn’t know what he was going to do. There was another shot and we didn’t know he was after shooting himself at this stage.
“She went back up there (to stop traffic) and I ran back in here. I didn’t know what to do. It was terrifying.
“I went down later on and the Emergency Response Unit were there, I could see a few bullet holes in the front windscreen of the van. He was obviously taking pot shots out the front of the van.”
Mr O’Brien said the two garda officers saved each others lives. “They wouldn’t be alive only for each other. They were brilliant in fairness.
“The female guard, after what happened her – the man put a gun out the window at her (and shot at her). I could hear it (the gunshot) and she had the presence of mind then to go up there and try and stop traffic coming down. . .” He said Sgt Marsh was thinking of other people when she ran up the road to stop traffic.
“God only knows what that lunatic was going to do. It was crazy stuff. To be honest with you after that, I came back in here and locked the door,” he said.
Mr O’Brien and his neighbours, William and Maureen Casey, said the two officers should be commended by An Garda Siochana for their actions this week.