Van DNA may identify gunman in Bray attack

Bobby Messett. Pic via Taylor Made Boxing Gym Facebook page

Gardaí hope to know in the coming days if DNA samples taken from the getaway vehicle used in the fatal Bray gun attack can identify the gunman.

Officers are in the process of sending DNA swabs to Forensic Science Ireland, where scientists will generate a profile and run it through the DNA Database to see if there is a match.

Gardaí are also examining a “mountain” of CCTV footage, including from where the getaway van was abandoned and from the area surrounding Bray Boxing Club.

A gunman, wearing “headgear”, entered the gym room of the club at around 6.55am on Tuesday, just as a fitness session was about to begin, and opened fire.

There were between 15 and 20 people attending the gym class at the time.

One of the participants, Bobby Messett, was standing closest to the shooter and suffered traumatic injuries to his head and died almost instantly.

The 50-year-old father of three has been described by gardaí as a “totally innocent person, in the wrong place at the wrong time”.

Gym trainer, boxing coach Pete Taylor, was shot in the torso, while a second participant, Ian Britton, was shot three times in his right leg.

Katie Taylor and her father Pete Taylor following her Olympic success in August 2012. Pic: Gareth Chaney Collins

Gardaí believe between six and 10 shots were fired, and officers said that even more people could have been seriously injured.

Detectives are investigating why the gunman carried out the shooting and why he was so reckless.

They are investigating if the gunman was targeting Mr Taylor and, if he was, why he did it in a packed gym room rather than shoot the 57-year-old dad of Katie Taylor when he was on his own.

The silver caddy van was seen at Bray Harbour before the gym class started, suggesting the gunman was waiting for someone to arrive. 

It is not clear if Mr Taylor drove his distinctive white 161 Mustang to the club that morning or if he had stayed overnight in the club, where he is thought to have a room.

Garda sources said they are investigating both Mr Taylor’s movements and the gunman’s actions.

“He knew there was a class on and could see people going in. He either knew what he was doing and didn’t care or he mistimed it in some way and he just made a mess of it,” said one source.

Eyewitnesses have described the gunman as wearing either a motorbike helmet, a workman’s helmet, or a baseball cap.

He drove off in the caddy van through Bray, Shankill, and Cornelscourt, before abandoning his vehicle on Pigeon House Rd, Ringsend, 20km away, at around 8.05am. 

He took a bicycle out of the van and cycled away.

Gardaí have been harvesting the area for CCTV to see if they captured images of the man on the bike. 

DNA samples have been taken from the van as well as fingerprint and fibre samples.

“We’d hope there is DNA in there,” said a source. “We’d have them swabbed and generated in the next few days.”

The profile will be run against the DNA database’s reference index, which holds existing DNA profiles of people, and the crime index, which holds unknown profiles taken from crime scenes.

Gardaí at the scene of a shooting incident at Bray Boxing Club in The Harbour, Bray, Co. Wicklow. Photograph:

Fingerprint samples will be run against the Garda Fingerprint Database.

Garda sources are confident that the investigation team will be able to progress the investigation.

Mr Messett was active in a whole range of sports, from football, to boxing, to cycling and golf and was a member of Bray Wheelers Cycling Club and Glencormac United Football Club.

Only at the weekend, he competed in a two-day race run by the Irish Veteran Cyclist Association in Meath and Kildare. 

He finished fourth in his first race and seventh in the second and won an overall prize.

A statement from Bray Boxing Club said Mr Messett had been a dedicated and determined member for eight years and it was an “absolute pleasure to have been gifted with so many hours of his time”.

The Facebook post added: “We are heartbroken and will miss you dearly.”

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