A HERO garda remains in the intensive care unit of a New Orleans hospital after he was shot twice during a botched robbery.
Garda Brian Hanrahan was undergoing emergency surgery to remove a bullet that was lodged in his back yesterday.
His wife, Emma, is travelling to the United States today to be by her husband's bedside.
His injuries are said to be serious but not life-threatening.
The 31-year-old father of one, who is stationed in Newcastle West, Co Limerick, was enjoying a dream holiday with his dad, covering part of the famous Route 66, when he was shot twice, in the lower back and thigh, following a botched mugging in the 7th Ward area of the city at around 5.40am on Tuesday.
The off-duty garda had stood up to his attacker who had approached him demanding money at the intersection of New Orleans Street and North Tonti.
When Gda Hanrahan refused, he was shot twice, before his assailant stole his money and escaped on foot.
The young garda, a native of Killenaule, Co Tipperary, was conscious when police officers arrived at the scene.
He was able to give them a good description of his attacker, whom he described as being a black man aged around 40, wearing a grey shirt and dark-coloured baseball cap.
He was able to tell police he had met another man who brought him to the area, telling him he knew a place they could get a drink.
The garda went to an ATM machine where he withdrew $200 (€176) but told police that when they reached the location, he encountered another man who asked him for money.
A spokesman for New Orleans Police Department said no arrest had been made.
Locals in Newcastle West, where Gda Hanrahan has made his home, were shocked and upset to hear the popular garda 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 hoist in Clarina, Co Limerick, a couple of years ago in which €180,000 worth of heroin was found.
His colleagues in Newcastle West have remained with his wife, who was being comforted by family and friends.
A former colleague of Gda Hanrahan's said he was an "exceptional garda, who acted on instinct".
"Brian is a strong fellow and one of those who will act on instinct without thinking of himself," he said.
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. Any time we meet with him, he's fierce helpful.
"He's involved in so many groups locally and is always of great assistance."
Meanwhile, the Irish community in New Orleans has been rallying around the family and a fundraising event is taking place to help with their expenses.
Matt Murphy, owner of the Irish House restaurant, who is originally from Blackrock in Dublin but has lived in New Orleans for the past 20 years, said: "Things like this happen all the time here and give the place a bad name but Brian is away from home.
"There's a big Irish community in New Orleans that want to make him feel him among that community. We won't raise a million dollars but at least it will go some way towards helping the family," he told the Herald last night.