herald

Friday 2 December 2016

Gun pointed in face of garda after he stopped van in high-tension area

Crime

A Garda checkpoint on Francis Street where a man allegedly pointed a gun at a Garda.
A Garda checkpoint on Francis Street where a man allegedly pointed a gun at a Garda.

Armed garda units rushed to Dublin's south inner city after a man pointed a gun in the face of an unarmed officer.

The drama happened on Francis Street at 2.30pm yesterday - the same street where the funeral of gangster David Byrne took place last week.

A 49-year-old man, who is from Belfast, is alleged to have pointed a handgun in the face of an unarmed garda after his van was pulled over in Dublin's south inner city.

The incident occurred after the garda, who is attached to the Traffic Corps, stopped the man's Northern-Ireland-registered van as he believed the driver was not wearing a seatbelt.

When the garda, who is aged in his late 30s, went to take out his notebook a handgun was pointed at the garda and the van drove off.

A major security alert ensued with armed members of the Emergency Response Unit and Regional Support Unit (RSU) rushing to the scene.

The suspect vehicle then travelled the short distance to Thomas Street and the alleged gunman got out of the van for a short period of time before he was arrested. He was brought to Pearse Street Garda Station.

The street was briefly cordoned off, with 15 uniformed and armed gardai erecting temporary checkpoints.

Gardai have stressed that the incident is not believed to be linked to the gangland feud between the Kinahan cartel and associates of Gary Hutch.

Members of the heavily-armed RSU also manned a checkpoint on Francis Street shortly after the incident, with officers stopping several vehicles. A witness described how gardai approached the truck a short time after the alleged incident and pulled a man from the driver's side before holding him up against the vehicle's bonnet.

"They were holding him there for around 10 minutes when an unmarked car arrived and placed him inside.

"There were a lot of gardai around ... It's been very tense in certain areas around here since the murders," the witness said.

Last night, it emerged that the suspect became agitated at the garda checkpoint on Francis Street when he was stopped.

"This individual was not in a right frame of mind. He became very annoyed when he was stopped. He got out of his van and then back into it before he brandished the firearm at the garda," a source said. It is understood that prescription drugs were found in his van, which has led gardai to believe he has mental health issues.

Francis Street is where the funeral Mass of Regency Hotel victim David Byrne took place last week.

Feud

Armed garda units have been situated at locations in the south and north inner city due to the feud between the Kinahan cartel and associates of the late Gary Hutch.

David Byrne (34), an associate of Daniel Kinahan, was shot dead by members of a six-man hit squad in the Regency Hotel in Drumcondra on February 5.

Three days later, Eddie Hutch, the taxi driver brother of Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch, was shot dead by four men.

Armed members of Special Detective Unit as well as the RSU are keeping a presence in the capital, but the garda presence seen over the last week as two murder victims were buried has declined.

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