'You never know what people will do in desperate situations' - Irish family describe Dallas shooting hell
An Irish family living in Dallas have revealed how they were just minutes away from where ruthless snipers gunned down five police officers.
Darren Heffernan, from Leixlip, Co Kildare, his wife Sharon Walsh, from Drogheda, Co Louth, and their sons Sean (4) and Craig (2) live just three miles from where the bloodbath occurred in Downtown Dallas.
Speaking exclusively to independent.ie, Darren said his family and the Irish community in Texas have been left “completely shocked” by the horrific murders of local police officers.
The Heffernans were in their home packing suitcases to travel to Ireland on holidays when they first heard the devastating news.
“If I walk outside my house I can see in the distance where it happened,” Darren told independent.ie
“We were at home relaxing when my sister, who lives in New York, phoned to see if I was ok. I didn't know what she was talking about and then I turned on the TV and seen the news everywhere.
“I was on my guard when we heard the news, we didn't know where the suspects were. I checked the doors to make sure they were locked…you never know what people will do in desperate situations.
“We stayed up for most of the night to watch what was unfolding.”
The father-of-two, who has lived in Dallas for 12 years, described the murders as a “very cowardly act”. He added that the police officers were only doing their duty by protecting marchers in the area.
Mr Heffernan said Dallas is in complete shutdown following the brutal attacks.
“It is pretty unbelievable, you never see anything like this here. This seemed to be a planned and coordinated attack, it's so unusual for the city.
“It's a very friendly city and everybody gets on very well. I have not observed much racial tension in the city, it is very relaxed and everybody respects each other. I have never felt unsafe in this city, it is a very secure place to live and raise a family.
“A sizable amount of people own a gun for both recreation and safety. The logic is it reduces crime and acts as a deterrent and the criminals don't know who has one and it seems to work to a certain extent.
“You feel safer out walking knowing the police are armed.”
The Irishman said that local police officers and the Mayor of Dallas are very integrated in the community and support Irish events and culture.
He added it was unusual to come from a country where “the gardaí don't even carry guns, to being in a place where it is very much so in your face.”
“The police are generally tough and quite rightly if you get on the wrong side of them they will come down hard.
“The city has transformed over the years and there is much more of a family atmosphere especially in the area where the incident occurred,” said Darren.