A dad-of-two shot six times may have been caught in the crossfire of a dangerous west Dublin gang feud.
Charlie Cooper, from Mulhuddart, is in a serious condition following surgery in Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown, after being shot repeatedly at his home in Parslickstown Green on Monday night.
Detectives believe Mr Cooper may have been targeted because of his friendship with a 39-year-old gangster who was previously part of the 'Westies' gang.
Mr Cooper's pal has been involved in a bitter west Dublin feud with feared criminal Jason 'Jay' O'Connor (38), which has already led to one murder and a number of other violent incidents.
Sources say gardai suspect that associates of O'Connor are behind the brutal gun attack on Mr Cooper, which happened at 8.20pm.
It has emerged that, immediately after the shooting, gardai called to O'Connor's home. They do not believe the violent criminal was directly involved in the attempted murder.
However, fears of further violence in west Dublin are so great that armed garda units have been posted in the Mulhuddart area following the gun attack.
"We have set up a number of armed, high visibility checkpoints in the area," Garda Superintendent Liam Carolan said.
He said a man wearing a balaclava and dark clothes managed to get into the back garden of Mr Cooper's house.
"Our information is that a person went to the rear garden of an address and fired a number of shots through the window of that address," he said.
Supt Carolan confirmed that the victim's two young daughters were home at the time of the horror shooting.
Mr Cooper managed to get out the front door but was followed by the gunman, who fired a number of further shots.
The attacker then left in what was described by witnesses as a medium-sized black car. Gardai managed to speak to Mr Cooper following the attack.
The injured man does not have any criminal convictions and is not known to gardai for involvement in crime.
No arrests have yet been made in the investigation, but door-to-door inquiries are ongoing. Detectives are working on the theory that Mr Cooper may have been targeted by O'Connor's associates simply because of who he is pals with.
This career criminal has been involved in a long-running feud with O'Connor, which has meant that gardai have had to deploy extra armed patrols in the Mulhuddart and Blanchardstown areas over the past 18 months.
The gang war centres around the two criminals, who were formerly close pals and members of the infamous 'Westies' gang that terrorised Dublin well over a decade ago.
The duo split up around the time that 'Westies' gang leaders Shane Coates (31) and Stephen Sugg (27) were shot dead in Spain in 2004 and buried in concrete under a warehouse.
O'Connor's bitter enemy survived an assassination attempt earlier this year when a gunman attempted to take him out.
O'Connor survived at least two assassination attempts last year and, in the aftermath of one of these incidents, the criminal reacted with a rant to a newspaper reporter.
"I'll tell you a story, there's going to be a f***ing war in Blanchardstown - they are f***ing dead, stone f***ing dead," he said.
O'Connor was previously in the headlines when he had his fingers chopped off with an axe in a horrific attack by Real IRA members under the direction of their slain boss Alan Ryan in May 2012.