Gangland outrages reached terrifying new heights yesterday when four armed men — two dressed as gardaí and one dressed as a woman — shot dead one man and seriously injured two others at a Dublin hotel, in front of adults and children.
A number of sources said the men dressed as gardaí used AK47s, while the other two had handguns.
The shooting began at 2.20pm inside a suite at the Regency Hotel in Drumcondra, on the airport road.
Gardaí are linking the attack with a spiralling feud between a drug trafficking network, led by Spanish-based convicted dealer Christy Kinahan, and criminal associates of Gary Hutch, shot dead in the Costa del Sol last September.
The shooting happened during a weigh-in for today’s planned WBO European Lightweight title fight in the National Stadium, involving a Marbella-based club backed by senior figures in the Kinahan cartel.
The deceased was named last night as David Byrne, aged 32, from Crumlin, south Dublin. He was a senior member of a major Crumlin outfit and part of the wider Kinahan network.
Gardaí now fear there will be retaliation. They have been braced for revenge for Hutch’s murder, with security arrangements in place for previous fights and again planned for tonight’s fight.
Garda sources accepted that questions may be raised as to what security measures were there for the weigh-in.
Last night, Chief Superintendent Barry O’Brien said upwards of four people were involved. He said two individuals were wearing what was described as “police-type uniforms” or “Swat uniforms with metal helmets”.
He said there were two others, one a male “disguised” as a female wearing a blonde or auburn wig, and a man with stocky build.
He confirmed that automatic weapons were used.
“This is a particularly nasty incident where individuals went into a hotel brandishing what are severe weapons,” he said.
Eyewitness Mel Christle, president of the Boxing Union of Ireland, who was officiating, said he saw “with his own two eyes” two men, one dressed as a woman, armed with handguns.
Another eyewitness, BBC sports reporter Kevin McAnena, said there were two gunmen dressed as gardaí, armed with what he thought were AK47s. A third eyewitness said the bogus gardaí had rifles, believed to be AK47s, with another gunman dressed as a woman.
“I’m really shocked at the fact that so many young people who were there with their parents witnessed it and I saw the sheer fear that will live with them,” Mr Christle told RTÉ’s Drivetime. He said there were 200 to 300 people in the room and that the shooting started.
He said there was “a lot of shooting” in the room, but “far more shooting” outside the doors in the reception area of the hotel.
He said he saw a man dead against the reception desk.
“I’m sure he was trapped and he was riddled,” he said.
Mr McAnena said he saw one gunman shoot in the leg a man who he now knew was dead. After he jumped behind the reception desk, the gunman leaned over and pointed the rifle at him.
“I was shouting ‘don’t shoot, don’t shoot’. He said something and left. I’m looking down the barrel of a gun, thinking I was going to die.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved