Gardai fire shots in hunt for kidnap thugs who terrified women
THESE are the dramatic scenes in north Dublin as armed gardai frantically searched for members of a masked gang who terrorised a postmistress, her daughter and an Italian student in a tiger kidnapping.
Gardai fired two shots and arrested one suspect, but at least two other members of the gang were last night at large.
Postmistress Susan Lawlor was taken at gunpoint yesterday morning to her premises at Bayside on the northside of the city.
She was forced to hand over €85,000 in cash shortly after normal opening hours when the timelock on the safe no longer operated.
An emergency operation was put in place after officers were alerted about the kidnap and robbery by An Post officials.
Garda units spotted the gang as they were leaving Bayside and pursued them through the northside with assistance from a garda helicopter.
More than a dozen garda veh-icles were involved in the high-speed chase.
The getaway vehicle was eventually intercepted after it crashed near the grounds of Malahide Castle.
Elite gardai from the Emergency Response Unit fired two shots and it was at this point that a 20-year-old suspect was arrested.
At least two other members of the gang managed to escape and armed detectives carried out searches of the woods surrounding Malahide Castle.
The suspects were last night being hunted across the capital.
The stolen cash was recovered during the operation that played out in the normally quiet seaside town. The arrested man was taken to Coolock garda station for questioning. He can be held without charge for up to three days.
The terrifying ordeal for Ms Lawlor and the other women began at around 1am when the thugs forced their way into her home in Malahide and woke them.
The women were held hostage in their nightclothes until near breakfast time when Ms Lawlor was ordered to drive her own car to the Bayside post office.
The raiders waited until the timelock was released and then forced her to hand over the money before making off in a dark-coloured car.
But unknown to the gang, the alarm was set off during the robbery and An Post officials quickly alerted the garda authorities.
A senior garda officer said: "The agreed protocols between us and An Post worked very well in this operation."
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald last night said tiger kidnappings are "a particularly callous and cowardly form of crime".
She expressed her hope that the victims "can recover from their dreadful ordeal".