An Irish man shot dead near his adopted home in the US was “in the wrong place at the wrong time”, officials believe.
The victim, Ciaran O Conghaile from Mor village on Inis Meain, one of the Aran Islands off the Co Galway coast, was believed to have been shot in the chest in Boston early yesterday morning.
It is the second tragedy to hit his family in recent years.
It is understood he was working in the construction industry in the US for the past 12 years and was yards from his condominium home on Nahant Avenue, near Adams Corner in the suburb of Dorchester, when he was shot at around 1am.
The 36-year-old was pronounced dead by emergency services who were called to the scene.
Government sources said investigators in the US believe Mr O Conghaile was not intentionally killed but may have been caught up in a botched robbery.
“They don’t think he was a target,” said one source.
“It looks like it was a tragic case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Boston police are investigating whether he had his wallet stolen as he walked home from an Irish festival.
Mr O Conghaile was one of the many undocumented Irish working in America without legal status.
He was unable to visit his family in the Aran Islands for more than a decade for fear of being unable to return to Boston.
His older brother Michael Dara O Conghaile was swept into the sea by a freak wave as he stood chatting to his sister on the island pier in 2000.
Islanders spent a year-and-a-half searching for his remains, which were eventually identified by DNA testing.
The last time Mr O Conghaile returned to his native Inis Meain was for his brother’s funeral.
The security clampdown after the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington DC prevented him from coming home again.
One of his two sisters is understood to be living in Boston.
Tarlach de Blacam, who runs Inis Meain Knitting company, said Mr O Conghaile worked for him for four or five years as a machine operative immediately before leaving for the US.
“He was a clever little fella but he wanted to go off and see the world,” he said.
“He was lots of fun, just a lovely, bright youngster. He was always joking, good fun.”
Mr de Blacam said the close community of Inis Meain, with a population of around 160 islanders, was devastated for Mr O Conghaile’s father Micheal and mother Anna, as well as his surviving two sisters and brother.
“They are lovely people, a lovely family,” he said.
“People shouldn’t have to go through this much – one is enough.
“It’s pretty shocking, the second tragedy for the same family. They are just getting over the death of young Micheal.”
Local reports said Mr O Conghaile’s construction colleagues in Boston called by his apartment to pick him up for work yesterday morning as usual but drove on after there was no answer at the door.
Friend and Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen said Mr O Conghaile had been at the Irish Heritage Festival taking place in the neighbourhood over the weekend.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said it was providing consular assistance to the family.