Gardaí tracking a Lithuanian criminal gang across two counties later shot one of the suspected gang members in the early hours of this morning writes David Raleigh.
The man, aged 36, was shot with a 9mm round from gun discharged by a member of the Cork-based armed garda wing - the Regional Support Unit (RSU).
Cork gardaí had the gang under surveillance for weeks after they were suspected of carrying out robberies across Munster.
The gang's movements were been tracked by gardaí following a robbery in north Cork last night.
Officers were conducting a "planned operation", stated the Garda Siochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC).
The suspected gang members were eventually stopped by gardaí in West Limerick in around 2.30am this morning.
Cork gardaí had contacted their colleagues in Limerick and requested a checkpoint be set up along the gang's route, at Jobbers Cross, situated on the isolated Shanagolden to Foynes Road.
When officers moved in to arrest two men in a silver coloured Toyota Corolla a shot was fired from a garda's gun, hitting the driver in the face.
The man, from Eastern Europe, was rushed from the scene to University Hospital Limerick, where he is said to be in a serious but stable condition.
A male passenger, also aged in his 30s, who was travelling in the car, was arrested and taken to Limerick city for questioning by Cork detectives.
He was been held under Section 50 of the Offences Against the State Act.
Gardaí can hold him for up to seven days without charge.
"It was very hairy. We didn't expect this would happen. It looks like the lad might pull through," said a Garda source.
"Details are very sketchy," they added.
Gardaí have not made any official comment.
The matter was referred to GSOC, who will carry out an independent investigation into the circumstances of the shooting.
"They will want to talk to the guard who shot the guy and ask him and his colleagues what exactly happened," the source said.
There are unconfirmed reports that the RSU officer's gun fired accidentally as gardaí moved in to arrest the men.
A silver-coloured 151 registered Toyota saloon car was removed from the scene for a forensic examination.
The drivers window was smashed, and a pool of blood and shards of glass were visible at the scene.
A GSOC statement said: "The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission this morning opened an investigation to establish the circumstances of a shooting, which occurred near Foynes, Co. Limerick, at about 2:30 this morning."
"The man, in his 30s, was shot in the face by a Garda member during a planned Garda operation."
"He was transferred to hospital and his condition is reported this morning as stable."
"The incident was referred by the Garda Síochána to GSOC under section 102 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, which provides for independent investigation of “any matter that appears to indicate that the conduct of a member of the Garda Síochána may have resulted in the death of, or serious harm to, a person”."
"GSOC investigators have been deployed to the scene and an investigation is ongoing."