Blanchardstown centre search sparked by sighting of armed teenager

Staff cleared to re-enter premises after 19-year-old reported missing in Ennis not found

 

Gardaí who shut down Blanchardstown shopping centre in Dublin on Wednesday were responding to reports that an armed Co Clare teenager had been sighted there.

It is understood gardaí were responding to a credible sighting of the missing 19-year-old in a nearby carpark when they shut the centre at about 5.30pm. The building was evacuated and armed gardaí were posted at the entrances.

The shopping complex was searched and staff were cleared to re-enter the premises at about 8pm after no trace of the man was found. The centre remained closed to the public last night but was opening as normal on Thursday.

‘Believed to be armed’

“He is believed to be armed and the public are asked not to approach him, but should contact gardaí at Ennis Garda station on 065 6848100 or the emergency numbers 999 or 112”.

It is understood the firearm is a licensed .22 rifle and he was in possession of a number of rounds of ammunition.

Garda units blocked entrances to the shopping centre and routes leading to it yesterday evening.

An eyewitness said there were three to four armed gardaí at all the shopping centre exits and shoppers were leaving the centre calmly at around 6.30pm. There was no sense of panic, he said.

One shopper said she was inside the centre with friends when gardaí arrived at about 5.30pm.

“The guards just came in and started telling everyone to get out. Nobody knew what was going on,” she said.

“Some people were calm and some people were just scared.”

Another woman said armed gardaí had quickly sealed every entrance, including delivery areas.

Two shop workers waiting outside said they had been asked to leave the centre at about 6.20pm.

“It was calm. The shopping centre was just empty; you’d notice one or two people walking towards the entrance but that was about it,” said Tara O’Connor.

Her colleague Shauna O’Byrne said: “We’re just waiting around to see what happens. We don’t really know what to think.”