Two men in hospital after shootings in Glasnevin
Suspected attacker shot himself in the foot as he cycled away
At the scene of yesterday’s shooting at Glasnevin Avenue, two bicycles remain with evidence bags attached. The other shooting was at nearby Hillcrest Park. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien
A personal dispute was at the centre of an attack yesterday in which a criminal was shot in the stomach in Glasnevin, Dublin, before the suspected gunman then accidentally shot himself in the foot as he tried to flee on a bicycle, gardaí believe.
Commuters waiting on a bus in rush-hour traffic witnessed the incident. When gardaí arrived they found the suspected gunman on the ground wounded, with a bicycle and a shotgun just yards away. The victim, who had also been on a bicycle, was in a laneway close by, lying critically injured.
Both the victim and the suspected gunman are known to gardaí. They have connections to the crime scene in their native Finglas and Ballymun areas of north Dublin, both about one mile from the scene of yesterday’s attack.
Gardaí say they believe the shooting arose from a personal dispute between the victim and a third party who wanted him shot. Detectives are exploring the theory that the gunman, aged 31 and with some relatively minor criminal convictions, may have been paid by the third person to carry out the shooting.
The victim, whose condition is not life threatening despite a bad stomach wound, has been named locally as Charlie O’Neill (50), unemployed, Balcurris Road, Ballymun.
O’Neill has a lengthy criminal record for a range of crimes including public order offences, criminal damage, reckless endangerment, possession of a knife and drugs offences. He is known locally as The Walrus and the Finglas band Aslan is believed to have written one of its songs – Goodbye Charlie Moonhead – about him.
Gardaí say they believe he cycled the same route early every morning and that the gunman, and the person on whose behalf he was allegedly acting, knew where Mr O’Neill would be and when. Sources said the gunman appeared to be waiting in a laneway for his target.
O’Neill was shot at 8.20am at the entrance to the laneway between Glasnevin Avenue and Hillcrest Park. He managed to crawl a short distance into the front garden of a nearby house looking for help. When gardaí arrived, the suspected gunman had cycled a short distance away before apparently shooting himself accidentally.
He struggled on a little further before collapsing at Hillcrest Park. Both men were taken by ambulance to hospital – Mr O’Neill to Beaumont and the suspect to the Mater. the scene of the shooting was sealed off for an examination by the Garda Technical Bureau. Both bicycles are also being examined.
Garda Supt David Taylor said the area was particularly busy with people at a bus stop and a petrol station. He said a number of witnesses had already come forward but he asked that anyone who saw suspicious activity in the area from about 7am onwards that they contact the incident room at Ballymun Garda station.
Residents of the area expressed their horror. Kay Nevin (71) said she was at Hillcrest Park shortly after 8.20am when she saw a man propped against a pillar, holding his hand aloft for help. She said the man’s leg was badly damaged and he was bleeding from the top of his right thigh. He was moaning and a neighbour brought out a towel and rang the emergency services.
Denis Wilson (45) said he was walking on Glasnevin Avenue when he heard two gunshots close together. He crossed the road and could see a man on the grass in a front garden. He was not making any noise and was not moving.
Mr Wilson said gardaí arrived very quickly and surrounded him until emergency services took him away on a stretcher.
Mr O’Neill was jailed for four years in 2007 but was spared prison when the term was suspended. He had had a row with his former wife and had threatened to stab her in the head.
He then took their seven-year-old son in his car from his ex-wife’s new home in Swords, Co Dublin, and told her he was not bringing the boy back.
She rang gardaí and he was spotted in traffic and a Garda car gave chase for 11 minutes in suburban traffic and saw Mr O’Neill break seven sets of red lights with his son in the back.
The pursuit ended when he overtook a double-decker bus on the wrong side of the road and lost his Garda pursuers.
When his car was later spotted in Finglas, Mr O’Neill sped off and struck the Garda car in the process. He later surrendered the boy unharmed.
The court case in 2007, two years later, heard his relationships with his ex-wife had improved. He pleaded guilty to a number of offences including threatening to kill her but he was spared prison.