The attack is being linked to the feud between the Kinahan crime cartel and the Hutch gang, which has claimed five lives, including four in Dublin in 10 weeks.
Yesterday’s target, a senior Hutch figure, is thought to have left a pub onto Lower Sheriff St in Dublin’s north inner city, at the same time as a homeless man was passing.
It is thought both men ran for cover when a gunman approached and that the victim may have ended up stuck between the gunman and his intended target.
Gardaí said up to six shots were fired, at least two hitting the victim, who suffered fatal head injuries. The gunman escaped on a bicycle down Sheriff St.
The victim was named locally as Martin O’Rourke, aged 24. He was described as having a “chaotic lifestyle”, blighted by drugs, drink, homelessness, and low-level criminality.
He was a father and had an address in the Bridewell area, but was in and out of emergency accommodation and drug-addiction services.
Gardaí made quick progress and discovered a handgun, the suspected murder weapon, dumped into a wheelie bin nearby.
The gunman also abandoned his bicycle and fled on foot. He is described as being of strong build and wore black clothing and possibly had a scarf over his face.
Superintendent Kevin Gralton of Store Street Garda Station stressed that the investigation was in “its infancy” and said it was too early to confirm various reports.
He appealed to anyone who witnessed the shooting or saw the man on the bicycle to contact gardaí.
The intended target, aged 32, is a convicted armed robber and is suspected by the Kinahan cartel of taking part in the Regency Hotel assault on February 4, in which Kinahan lieutenant David Byrne was shot dead.
That was a revenge attack for the shooting dead by the Kinahan gang of Gary Hutch last September in Spain.
Three days after the Regency attack, Edward Hutch — brother of Gerard ‘The Monk’ Hutch — was shot dead in Hutch heartland in the north inner city.
Last month, Noel Duggan, a criminal associate of The Monk, was shot dead in Ratoath, Co Meath, again at the suspected hands of the Kinahan cartel.
“The Kinahan gang have killed four people. They will keep going, at least until they get all the Regency crew,” said a senior source. He feared more innocent lives could be lost and suspected the Hutch gang will carefully plan a revenge attack.
Senior members of both sides are in Dublin, according to Garda reports.