A teenager in custody over a possible terrorism-related knife murder had been squatting in a house close to the scene in Dundalk, Co Louth.
That house has been sealed off for examination and it appears to have been vandalised. Two phones found on the suspect’s person were also being examined.
Gardaí believe the Egyptian teenager now in custody slept in the house close to the murder scene the night before carrying out his attack yesterday morning.
Residents of Avenue Road where the accused was squatting told The Irish Times they haven't noticed anyone coming and going from the house in recent weeks.
“We keep a close eye on that house because we know it is unoccupied. We would have noticed anyone if they’ve been staying there for more than a little while,” one neighbour said.
Inquiries are continuing as investigating gardaí try to piece together the suspect’s movements in the Republic and whether he squatted in the Dundalk property for more than one night.
It is understood an elderly woman had lived in the house until her death recently. The property has been empty since then.
And while it had been vandalised, including religious artefacts being thrashed, that vandalism may have occurred some time ago. It may not be linked to the 18-year-old Egyptian now in custody.
Garda sources said the fact the suspect was squatting in a vacant property suggested he had no support or contacts in the Republic.
Gardaí are still trying to establish a motive for yesterday’s violence that left a Japanese man dead and two Irishmen injured. They have no evidence that he shouted any phrases associated with Islamic extremism as he carried out his attack.
Yosuke Sasaki (24), who is believed to come from the Japanese city of Ebina-shi, died after he was stabbed in the back on Avenue Road, Dundalk, by the Egyptian national. The attacker was armed with two knives.
Mr Sasaki had been living in the town for the past year and worked locally.
Two Irish men in their early 20s were also attacked on Wednesday – a 22-year-old was stabbed on Coes Road shortly before 9.30am while a 23-year-old man was attacked a few minutes later with a pole at Seatown Place. Both men sustained non life-threatening injuries in the attack.
A uniformed unarmed garda observed the suspect, who was in an agitated state and was armed with a fence post.
The unarmed garda called for armed back-up and kept the suspect under surveillance until two armed detectives arrived. The Armed Support Unit also responded to the call for back-up.
The suspect was overpowered and placed under arrest. He was taken to Dundalk Garda station, where he remains in custody.
The suspect had been stopped by gardaí in Dundalk on Monday and quizzed about his immigration status. He then went to Dublin, apparently to begin an application for asylum. However, gardaí believe an earlier application had already been rejected in the UK.
In that case, he would not have been eligible to make a fresh asylum application in Ireland.
In the past, some failed asylum seekers have travelled to Ireland in a bid to avoid deportation from the UK. For example, the Garda two years ago unearthed a sham marriage scam involving failed asylum seekers, mostly from Asia, travelling to Ireland to marry women from Eastern Europe.
In the vast majority of those cases the men had been living in Britain but had been refused permission to stay on there. They had come to Ireland by car ferry from Scotland into Northern Ireland. And once in the North they had travelled south, mostly to Dublin, where they married Eastern European women to secure an EU passport.
Because of the common travel area that operates between Britain and Ireland, immigration checks when travelling by ferry are not stringent.
Security at Dublin Port has been stepped up in recent years with Operation C Port.
That has been put in place to more closely monitor those travelling in and out of the country in a bid to make Ireland less attractive for international terrorism.
However, it appears the Egyptian man currently being questioned about yesterday’s violence travelled from Britain to the North and then travelled south to the Republic.
At this stage gardaí believe he had only been in the Republic for three or four days before yesterday’s attack. However, those details were expected to become clearer as the investigation into his crimes progresses.