Man arrested in connection with shooting of boy (6)

Six-year-old shot in neck while outside playing with friends in Ballyfermot housing estate on Friday

Sun, Jun 15, 2014, 20:30

Gardaí in Ballyfermot have arrested a man in his mid-30s in connection with a shooting incident on Friday night in which a six-year-old boy was injured.

Gardaí said yesterday that they had identified a “suspect or suspects” in their investigations. The incident occurred at about 10.15 pm in the Croftwood Gardens area of Ballyfermot, west Dublin.

Sources say two men were involved, both on bicycles when they approached a green area where a number of children were out playing.

One fired a shot, intended it is believed for the other man, but hit the child.

Witnesses said the shooter remained at the scene for a number of minutes after the incident, apparently in a state of confusion, while the other fled.

They say the boy, who had been shot in the neck or collar area, remained conscious in a state of shock on the ground.

Paramedics from Dublin Fire Brigade administered first aid before moving him to Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin, where he remains.

His injuries are said to be not life-threatening and his condition stable.

A Garda spokesman confirmed this evening that a man in his mid-30s was arrested at around 3.30pm this afternoon. He is being questioned under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act at Ballyfermot Garda station, where he can be held for up to 72 hours.

Community assistance

At a press-briefing in Ballyfermot Garda station yesterday, Superintendant Paul Moran of the Garda press office said the force was receiving “considerable assistance from the community”.

He stressed the incident had happened less than 24 hours previously and it was “early days”.

The shooting of a child was “very unusual” he added. “Any gun crime is very, very serious. It’s even more traumatic when it involves a child.”

A Garda liaison officer has been appointed to support the family during the investigation.

Supdt Moran said there was no link between this incident and organised gang crime and he urged those involved to come forward.

Gardaí could be seen carrying out door-to-door interviews around the green at Croftwood Gardens yesterday morning, while members of the Garda technical bureau examined a large area cordoned off with Garda tape.

A weapon has not been found and Supdt Moran would not comment on speculation that a pellet gun had been used.

“We have to establish the type of firearm or the type of ammunition that was used,” he said. .

Witnesses who spoke to The Irish Times said there were “at least ten or twelve children” playing on the green when the shooting took place.

“These two fellas came in who were chasing each other when there was a bang and the little fella hit the ground,” said Stephen Smith, a neighbour.

“I so some hunting and I know a a bit about guns. There’s a sound when a bullet hits. It’s indescribable, like a silent thud. The kids all scattered roaring crying and the little lad just lay there, totally silent. Everyone thought he was dead. He was in a state of shock.

“The lad who shot him was going round in circles with his hands on his head for about 15 seconds, like ‘What have I done?’ Then he went off, still holding the gun. Then the child’s ma came out screaming and everyone was on their phones calling 999.”

Local parish priest, Gerry O’Connor, said the community was “speechless”.

“Everyone was out on a beautiful summer’s evening and it was over before it even began. Nobody is prepared for moments like this. Everyone is just speechless. People are bewildered. Children should never have to experience violence,” he said.

He said the boy attended St Ultan’s primary school, Cherry Orchard, and that all support would be offered to his class-mates, many of who would be frightened by what had happened.

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has condemned the shooting as “barbaric”.

“I share the shock of the community in Ballyfermot at the appalling shooting of a child last night. The thoughts and prayers of everyone will be for the recovery of the child,” she said.

“Acting Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan has assured me that the Gardaí are making significant progress with their inquiries and that they are determined to bring to justice those involved in perpetrating this dreadful incident.”

Local Fianna Fáil Councillor Daithí de Róiste has called for an urgent meeting with the Minister following the incident.

“ I believe we need extra garda resources in Ballyfermot and across west Dublin,” he said.

Cllr de Róiste said residents in Ballyfermot were becoming increasingly anxious about their safety following a recent spate of gun attacks in the area and the fact nothing is being done about it.

“We are witnessing a serious escalation of gun crime in Ballyfermot, Inchicore, Drimnagh and across west Dublin. In addition to the countless shootings in recent weeks, Gardaí and now investigating how a young child was the poor victim of such a heinous crime” he said.

Anyone with information or who witnessed the incident is asked to contact gardai at (01) 6667200 or any other station.