Hitman's bullet missed our boy (4) 'by just inches', says family
The mother of a young boy who narrowly missed being hit by a stray bullet in a botched gangland hit has said he is uninjured after the shocking attack.
The four-year-old was sitting in the back of his father's car in the Charlestown Shopping Centre in Finglas last Friday evening when a masked gunman opened fire nearby.
The hitman was aiming at a known criminal but the stray bullets hit the boy's child seat and surrounding walls of nearby buildings.
Five shots were fired in total but nobody was hit.
The gunman then jumped into a waiting car and was driven from the scene while his intended target fled in a different direction.
"Everyone is fine," said the boy's mother from her Finglas home. But another relative has told how close the boy came to harm in the daylight attack.
The child was with his father in the car park of McDonald's when the attack happened.
"He was going down for a Happy Meal and the little lad was in the back in his child seat and the bullet came in through the back door and through the seat. He was in a high seat and, as far as I know, the bullet is stuck in the seat," said the relative.
"The guards took the car to get the bullet. If he was any lower or higher he was gone - it missed him by less than inches," he explained.
The area was busy at the time with families coming out of a nearby funfair.
"When you go out shopping or to McDonald's, you don't check over your shoulder. You don't expect that to happen.
"We got a phone call and we had to run up to his partner's home to make sure that they were all right. They were really cut up over it," said the relative.
"The father collapsed at the scene and the paramedics wanted to take him into hospital. His blood pressure was up but he said he would go to the hospital himself.
"We can't believe it. He was just there going to McDonald's and then this happens. Thank God they are safe," he added.
Gardai are continuing to appeal for the public's assistance in finding the perpetrators of the shooting, which happened at 6.15pm.
The gunman is believed to have been brought to the shopping centre by an accomplice in a silver VW Golf with the registration 02 MH 7775.
This car was later found burnt out in the Shancastle estate on the other side of city in Clondalkin a short time later.
It was removed for forensic examination by members of the Garda Technical Bureau.
Gardai believe the intended target is a well known criminal with links to the gang headed by Brian Rattigan and that the attempted murder could re-ignite the Crumlin Drimnagh feud, which has claimed 14 lives over the past decade.
One theory the gardai are working on is that the intended victim was lured to the Charlestown Shopping Centre for a meeting with others but ran from the scene when he spotted the masked gunman coming for him.
The man who fled, who is in his 20s, has previously served a prison sentence for an attack on a member of the gang headed by 'Fat' Freddie Thompson.
He was also a close associate of John and Noel Roche, who were both murdered in 2005 as part of the Crumlin-Drimnagh feud.
A witness who was driving out of the car park at Charlestown on Friday evening described the scene.
"It was pandemonium. The car park was full of young families stopping for food after going to the cinema or coming from the fairground across the road. Parents and children were running everywhere," they said.
Local TD Noel Rock said the attack in front of so many innocents was a worrying development in Dublin's gangland wars.
"A Friday night at a shopping centre shows there is a clear seeping of gangland crime into the everyday lives of families," he said.
"The fact that these shots narrowly missed a young child shows the real danger posed by these thugs," he added.
Gardai at Finglas station are investigating the shooting. An incident room has been established and a full investigation has commenced.
They say the driver of the Volkswagen Golf is believed to be male.
Gardaí are appealing for witnesses and anyone with information, particularly those who may have observed the silver Golf prior to its arrival at Charlestown or its discovery later at Shancastle Estate, to contact them at 01 6667500, the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666111 or any garda station.