Man fires on gardaí before killing himself

A suspected drink driver opened fire on two gardaí with a rifle before pulling out a licensed shotgun and killing himself.

The man had been driving erratically through Newport, Co Tipperary, when he was stopped by gardaí at Briarfield on the Thurles side of the town.

A Garda source said that after the minivan was pulled over at 7.35pm, the driver took out a bolt-action .303 rifle and fired at the patrol car.

The man, a taxi driver in his mid-40s, fired five or six times as the gardaí dived for cover.

He then returned to his vehicle where he picked out a shotgun, which was licensed in his name, and shot himself.

Two gardaí, a male garda and a female sergeant, were in the patrol car and had got out to approach the vehicle before the man jumped out. They were badly shaken by the attack but were uninjured.

Locals said the man was driving a van-type vehicle which was decorated with signage. He was originally from Limerick City but living in Tipperary and it does not appear that he had a criminal record.

The incident happened on the outskirts of Newport, which is on the Limerick-Tipperary border. The Briarfield stretch of the road, near the local doctor’s surgery, was dimly lit with streetlights and there was heavy rain at the time.

One woman, who was watching television when it happened, said she heard three shots. These happened more than a minute apart, with the initial shots followed by a second round a short time later.

She said at first it sounded as if somebody was smashing into a house but there did not appear to be an audible altercation immediately before the shooting began.

An ambulance was called, but the man was pronounced dead at the scene.

Patsie Frazier, who was working in Ryan’s Bar 100 metres away, also heard the shots. However, the road had been closed off, the weather was very bad and few people ventured out after the shooting.

Mr Frazier said people in Newport were not aware of what sparked the incident.

Residents living farther out the Thurles road said the subsequent road closures had prevented them from finding out what had happened or getting close to the scene.

Newport parish priest Fr Joseph Delaney said he was shocked to hear of the shooting. He did not learn about the incident until some hours after the event.

A spokesman for the Garda Ombudsman said a case had been referred to it by the Garda Commissioner. This was requested under the law, which covers cases when a member of the force may have been involved in an incident where a person died.

Investigators from the ombudsman’s office were dispatched to the scene to conduct an independent investigation.

The armed Garda wing, the Regional Support Unit (RSU), was also dispatched to the scene from Limerick.

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