Father-of-four Ger Killally, 44, was ambushed by a masked gunman as he drove from his home at Shean near Edenderry with his father Jay, daughter Aoibheann, 3, and son Ferdia, 2, at about 10.40am.
A witness, who declined to be named, said assailants were lying in wait outside the ex-Fianna Fáil county council chairman’s house as he prepared to leave in his silver VW Passat.
“The car was outside. He [Killaly] thought it was belonging to the turf pit across the way, so when he came up to the gate, he opened the gate with his remote. Then when he went to pull out they pulled in front of him and a guy jumped out of the car and started shooting.”
It is understood two shots were fired from a shotgun.
“He [Killaly] drove around the car and caught one of the concrete bollards under his car and took off down the road, so your man jumped back in the car and the two of them followed him shooting at the car.
“When he got to the corner the concrete bollard must have shifted and he lost control and went into the ditch and over the hedge and landed in the field and hit the shed. The shed stopped the car rolling, otherwise it would have continued a few more times.
“He [Killally] jumped out and went running up the field to get his head together and see what was happening. Then apparently the car did a U-turn and followed back up to see if they could get to him again, he was halfway across the field so they just kept going.”
The children and father were in a state of shock and, although cut and bruised, were silent when the witness approached.
Gardaí said the assailants were using a silver Astra saloon car with the partial registration 06D when they targeted Mr Killally. They will investigate whether the attack was an attempted robbery and whether there may have been cash in Mr Killally’s car when the incident occurred.
An incident room has been established at Tullamore and gardaí are appealing to anybody who may have information to contact them at 057 9327600, the Garda confidential line 1800 666111, or any Garda station.
Mr Killally has been embroiled in controversy in recent years. The former Cathaoirleach of Offaly County Council and running mate of ex-taoiseach Brian Cowen was estimated during bankruptcy proceedings in 2010 to have debts of over €73m. In 2009, he and another man admitted making €3.5m secret profits from land deals in Offaly.