Detectives investigating Wednesday's gangland-style shooting in west Dublin were forced to carry out early arrests of four suspects after gardaí in Kildare caught them burning out a suspected fourth getaway car that night.
It comes as the victim of the shooting is due to be released from hospital in the coming days despite being shot 11 times in the shoulder and arms, with grazes hitting the side of his face.
Surgeons removed six bullets from inside him on Thursday and gardaí said it was “pure luck” that none hit a major organ or artery.
The four suspects arrested in Kildare include a former associate of the target and three other men, all from the Clondalkin and Ballyfermot areas of west Dublin.
The victim, aged 43, was ambushed as he was driving home along Griffeen Glen Park estate in Lucan, west Dublin, just before 2pm on Wednesday.
His SUV was rammed by a waiting car and his attackers opened fire, spraying his windscreen with bullets.
The victim somehow managed to crawl out of the vehicle and seek help from a neighbour, who alerted emergency services.
Two getaway cars were found burned out nearby, while a third getaway vehicle, also set ablaze, was recovered in Bray, Co Wicklow, 35 kilometres away.
A fourth vehicle was found on fire along Old Bog Road in Kilcock, Co Kildare, a distance of 65kms from Bray, at around 9pm on Wednesday.
Detectives investigating the shooting had nominated four men as persons of interest at case conferences in Lucan, and these men were subsequently identified by gardaí on patrol in Kildare.
The four were questioned in relation to the murder and released without charge.
Sources said their apprehension in Kildare had “forced the hands” of detectives to arrest them much earlier than normally.
Officers would typically wait until they had amassed evidence, from forensics or witnesses or CCTV, before arresting a suspect in order to put all the assembled evidence to them.
This will mean the investigating team can only rearrest them if they have gathered fresh evidence.
The victim escaped being killed despite being shot and hit 11 times in the attack, hitting him across the shoulder and arms.
Gardaí said it was amazing none of them hit major organs or arteries.
A source said: "It's incredible really - it's just pure luck."
He is due to be released in the coming days, but officers are very concerned for his safety.
Sources currently believe that the victim and a main suspect had a serious falling out and that this may be the motive for the gun attack.
Detectives are also investigating if there is any link to a gun murder of David Chen Lynch in nearby Clondalkin last March or the murder of Mark Desmond in Griffeen Park in December 2016.
Gardaí have appealed for people who noticed suspicious activity on the Old Bog Road, Killeighter, Kilcock, County Kildare between 8pm and 9pm to come forward and for motorists were around that place at that time.
They renewed their appeal to anyone who may have noticed two males running from vehicles at Griffeen Glen Park, Lucan, Elm Way, Lucan Liffey Road, Liffey Valley Park, Lucan and at Blind Lane, Fassaroe, Bray last Wednesday to contact them.
Lucan Garda station on 01 666 7300; Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111.