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Manhunt after botched hit at gym

A GUNMAN dressed in military clothing attempted to shoot another man in a gym.

A garda search is under way for the assailant, who disguised himself with a balaclava, after he pointed the sawn-off shotgun at a man in the gym in Offaly last night.

At the time of the botched gun attack, there were 30 people training in the downstairs section of the Tullamore facility.

It is understood that the gunman entered an upstairs room in the gym and twice attempted to open fire at his intended target at 9.30pm.

When the gun failed to fire, the man raced from the building and made his getaway.

A car was found burnt out a short distance away shortly after the attempted shooting.

Gardai are now investigating if the gunman used this vehicle to make his getaway.

One theory being investigated is that the incident may be linked to an ongoing feud in the midlands area.

Members of Spartacus Boxing Club were training for a charity event on the ground floor of the building when the gunman entered upstairs.

Club coach, Dimtry Dmitruk, said 30 adult club members arrived at 8.15pm and trained downstairs until 10.15pm for an upcoming charity event in aid of Tullamore hospital.

He was unaware of what occurred in the same building until he saw gardai arrive at the building.

"I tried to keep the people inside as long as possible," he recalled.

He said none of the club's members witnessed anything,

"We all had to give our name to the gardai," he explained.

The coach said the upstairs gym is accessed through a separate door and used by other clubs.

Mr Dmitruk, who coaches the Irish school boys squad, was upset that his club would be associated with the failed gun attack.

"What we are doing is only sports, nothing dodgy," he said.

Garda investigations are continuing.