Wednesday 22 November 2017

'They fired into the bar. People were screaming. A lad had a gunshot wound to his stomach'

Gardai at the Regency Hotel in the aftermath of the shooting and (right) a body is removed from the scene (Collins)
Gardai at the Regency Hotel in the aftermath of the shooting and (right) a body is removed from the scene (Collins)

This is the moment two gunmen, disguised as gardai, burst into a north Dublin hotel.

Amid scenes of unprecedented chaos, one man was murdered and another two suffered gunshot wounds, as the bogus gardai opened fire at a boxing weigh-in event at the Regency Hotel.

Four culprits, three disguised as gardai and carrying AK-47s and another as a woman, were involved in the capital's latest gangland gun attack.

David Byrne (34), from Crumlin, was killed in the bloodbath. At least two others were injured and taken to hospital.

More than 100 boxing fans had gathered in the hotel's function room ahead of this weekend's Clash of the Clans, which has now been cancelled.

But as the weigh-in ended, they ran in terror and dived for cover when gunmen, disguised as armed gardai, opened fire.

Boxer Jamie Kavanagh, son of murdered Gerard 'Hatchet' Kavanagh, was on stage along with Portuguese opponent Antonio Joao Bento and several other fighters.

Daniel Kinahan, a key event organiser and son of exiled drugs empire boss Christy, was also present.

At 2.30pm, as boxing fans started to leave, the masked gunmen burst into the hotel.

Hotel manager John Glynn told the Herald how he saw one of the victims shot by the fake gardai.

"They opened fire. One guy across from me was rushing by reception and he was shot," Mr Glynn said. "Then they disappeared into the (function) room and there were more shots.


"It was frightening. It is the last thing you would ever think could happen."

Mr Glynn said that it was a miracle no innocent bystanders were killed.

The hotel is this weekend full of Welsh rugby supporters, who had flown over for tomorrow's match against Ireland in the Aviva Stadium.

Many of them were in the bar as the gunmen opened fire.

"I am one of the lucky ones. These guys seemed to be firing left, right and centre. I see a bullet is gone through one of the panels behind the bar," Mr Glynn said.

"I heard a bang and thought that it was a bottle that broke. The last thing in my mind was that it was a gunshot.

"They fired into the bar and could have hit anyone. They could have turned on anyone. They could have fired on me or any of the staff or guests.

"I was standing there watching it. I couldn't get my head around it. Naturally, I am (still) scared," Mr Glynn added.

Meanwhile, speaking in Tipperary in the aftermath of what he described as an "horrific" attack, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, pledged that the Garda Training College in Templemore would "never close again".

"The Garda Training College closed down," he said, referring to the freeze on recruitment during the economic crash. "There's 600 going through it at the moment... it will never close again," Mr Kenny added.


Speaking after the brutal murder, two eyewitnesses told the Herald of the horrific scenes.

"I got there for about 1.30pm and hung around the foyer and went straight in," the first witness said.

"There were 100 people in the room. It was very ordinary. There were three fights weighed in. We left at 2.25pm and walked out to the foyer," he said.

"There was about eight or nine of us walking out. There was about 20 or so (other) guests, not linked to the weigh-in, in the foyer, including children.

"I went outside onto the steps. I was going to pull out a cigarette and have a smoke.

"Two or three people ran out behind me and said, 'It's all kicking-off in there'. There was panic on their faces," the first witness said.

Three gunmen disguised as garda officers made their move.

"There was a silver '03 D- registered transit van in front of us. Three lads, I thought they were ERU (Emergency Response Unit) standing there.

"They were dressed like gardai in combat gear - they had the helmets, ski masks, bullet-proof vests, overalls, combat boots, carrying AK-47s.

"They were right in front of me. They pointed the gun at my head and one said 'get the f**k out of here'. They walked in and one of them let off a shot. I didn't know where to go, I stood there still," he said.

"Next thing 14 or 15 (people) started running out of the place. I still thought it was guards at this stage. They (the gunmen) were in the hotel for about two minutes. There was a load of people sprinting out.

"There was at least a dozen shots let off. It sounded like 'pop, pop, pop'. One or two ran out crying," the witness said.

Minutes later, at 2.30pm, the killers emerged.

"The three men ran out. I'm standing beside the van. They shouted, 'he's not f**king in there, he's not f**king in there, go, go, go, f**king go'.

"They sped off down the road towards Grace Park Manor. They stopped for a few seconds at the gates. I thought they were going to spin around but they went through the gates.


"There was just commotion, people screaming. They were all screaming 'get the f**k out of here, get the f**k out of here'.

"There was loads jumping into cars, wheels spinning off onto the main road. It was crazy. It was madness. People didn't know what was going on.

"There was a lad in a white top with a gunshot wound to his stomach saying, 'I've been shot'. There was blood on his shirt but he was quite calm. There was innocent people caught up in this madness. Children were crying.

"The gunmen had Dublin accents. It seemed like they knew who they were going for."

A second witness told what happened as he left the hotel.

"We left and outside the front door, we heard somebody come running out saying, 'it has all kicked off'.

"The next thing I heard the shot and these two individuals came running out from behind the van up the steps. One of them fired in the direction of the door.

"You could hear screaming inside and more shots going off. One of the two guys jumped up onto the reception counter. They both had AK-47s.

"There were shots going on inside and people were trying to get out. There were women screaming.


"In the meantime, there was a guy walking up the opposite side of the road from the hotel and I heard a shot and whoever fired the shot screamed at him 'to get the f**k out of here'.

"He was just an ordinary punter. He ended up running into a bush. I think he ended up climbing over a wall to get away.

"I didn't want to move out beyond that van in case he (the gunman) saw me. He was also dressed in what looked like a garda ERU uniform.

"I didn't know where to go in terms of what was the safest place. I stayed where I was. The next thing there was a bit of commotion at the far end of the hotel.

"I heard a man dressed as a woman (shout), 'he's not f**king here, I can't find him.' He was wearing a long blonde wig. I didn't see if he was armed.

"The other guy roared back, 'get the f**k out of here' just as the other two came out the front door. They came past me and went down to the silver transit van and bundled into it.

"The guards came along then," the witness said.

A group of shocked bystanders stood outside the hotel after the killing as a huge number of gardai descended on the scene.

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