Colleagues of the 30-year old garda shot twice in a botched mugging in the US on Tuesday, believe he may have survived because he was in top physical shape.
Father-of-one, Brian Hanrahan, from Killenaule, Co Tipperary, was nearing the end of a 10-day road trip to the States with his father Brian Hanrahan Snr, when he was shot in the lower back and leg, in New Orleans.
He had built up muscle tone as part of his training to enter strongman competitions, which was his hobby outside of the force.
"He's 6 ft 2', and built accordingly. He's strong I can tell you. If I need help I know who to get it from. He is strong, there's no doubt about it," said a colleague.
"He'd be stronger than the average fella that wouldn't be doing any training. He is into this dead-weight lifting."
According to his colleagues, Garda Hanrahan, who was posted from Limerick City to Newcastle West five years ago, had become a powerlifting enthusiast.
They believe this may have helped his body cope with the shock from the serious injuries inflicted in the random gun attack.
The Hanrahan family are due to fly to New Orleans today to visit him in hospital.
His wife Emma is to fly to the US today. The mother of one from Tipperary is expected to be joined on the journey by Garda Hanrahan's mother Rose and his sister Amy.
Family members did not want to talk to reporters yesterday (Wednesday) as they made preparations to travel to the US.
Locals in Newcastle West were "stunned" by the incident.
"I just hope he is ok. We are all shocked. The whole town is stunned after hearing it on the news," said a neighbour.
The father-of-one underwent surgery yesterday and a bullet that had been lodged in his lower spine from the shooting was removed.
In a poignant twist, the Stateside trip had been a surprise holiday organised in secret for the past year by Brian's dad -- a former Tipperary butcher who drives tour buses across the country and around Europe during the summer season.
Brian Snr had arranged the entire trip for them both, including the stop-off at New Orleans.
According to garda Hanrahan's colleagues, there were four muggings in New Orleans on the same night he was robbed and shot.
"We were shocked in the area to hear that anything had happened to young Brian," said Fine Gael Tipperary county councillor John Fahy, a family friend.
"It is unfortunate. We want to wish him the very best and hope he will make a full recovery
"The family are lovely people, brilliant community people. The community is so sorry that anything would happen to any (natives).
"I know the family and there's a great sense of relief among the community to hear that he'll be ok.
"They a well known family in the (Killenaule) area -- both the father's and mother's people. The father would have huge connections with Fethard too."