Boxing club shooting brings ‘dark cloud’ over Bray

‘You don’t wake up and think you’re going to have a triple shooting here’

The scene of the shootings at the boxing club in Bray, Co Wicklow. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

The scene of the shootings at the boxing club in Bray, Co Wicklow. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Shortly before 7am on Tuesday, several gunshots rang out across Bray harbour. For the second time in a matter of weeks, the seaside town in Co Wicklow found itself at the centre of a shocking and violent crime.

Anthony Connor was sitting in his car outside Bray Boxing Club when he heard the gunshots. A masked gunman had entered had the gym and shot three men, killing one, Bobby Messett (50). Boxing coach Pete Taylor, father of former Olympic champion Katie, and Ian Britton were the two injured.

There were more than 15 people, mostly regulars, at the early morning training session.

It was alarming, you don’t wake up and think you’re going to have a triple shooting here in Bray

Mr Connor, a local resident who walks his dog along the harbour most days, said he did not see the shooter leave the scene, but saw one of the three injured men stumble out of the boxing club with bullet wounds to his leg.

The scene of the shooting at Bray Boxing Club, Co Wicklow this morning. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
The scene of the shooting at Bray Boxing Club, Co Wicklow, on Tuesday morning. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

One man who had been inside during the shooting came out minutes afterwards and shared a cigarette with Mr Connor, who said he was shaking with shock.

The man told Mr Connor he believed he had avoided being shot because he attended church recently, and had dropped to the floor when the shooting started, he said.

“It was alarming, you don’t wake up and think you’re going to have a triple shooting here in Bray,” he said.

An image of Bobby Messett. Photograph: Facebook
An image of Bobby Messett. Photograph: Facebook

Commuters passing on the Dart would have seen down on to the harbour area beside the boxing club, where gardaí and paramedics spent much of the morning and afternoon.

Dark cloud

John Brady, Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow, said the shooting had brought another “dark cloud” over Bray.

“The community is still reeling from the shocking death of Jastine Valdez,” he said.

In late May the 24-year-old Filipina student, who worked in Bray, was abducted and killed by Mark Hennessy, who lived in the town with his wife and two children.

You have many young girls following Katie Taylor’s footsteps, and the club is very much part of a sport on the up in Wicklow

The boxing club, run by Pete Taylor, had been redeveloped in 2014 from a dingy hall to a well-regarded facility. His daughter Katie Taylor brought the small club where she trained to prominence when she won gold at the 2012 Olympics in London.

Since then the club has become a big part of the local community, Mr Brady said.

Boxing coach Pete Taylor with his daughter, Olympic gold medallist Katie Taylor. File photograph: Julien Behal/PA
Boxing coach Pete Taylor, who has been injured in a shooting in Bray, pictured previously with his daughter, Olympic gold medallist Katie Taylor. File photograph: Julien Behal/PA

“You have many young girls following Katie Taylor’s footsteps, and the club is very much part of a sport on the up in Wicklow,” he said.

Over the bank holiday weekend Bray had been packed with locals and tourists enjoying the sunshine, which Mr Brady said was a stark contrast to the violent shooting, which made international headlines “for all the wrong reasons”.

Nessa Duffy, who works at the Harbour Trading company which is across from the boxing club, said she arrived into work after the shooting.

“I came in to all this, it happened before I got here. It’s shocking,” she said. There had never been any previous trouble or problems with the boxing club, Ms Duffy said.

She described the shooting as “disgraceful” and “very out of the blue”.