Gardaí get set to charge suspect for murder of Det Garda Colm Horkan

Remains taken from Castlerea to dead man’s native Co Mayo under Garda escort

 People pray at a cross at the scene of the death of Det Garda Colm Horkan in Castlerea, Co Roscommon. Photograph:  Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

People pray at a cross at the scene of the death of Det Garda Colm Horkan in Castlerea, Co Roscommon. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

 

Gardaí were late on Friday night preparing to charge the chief suspect in the murder of Det Garda Colm Horkan as the deceased detective’s family were making plans for his funeral service on Sunday.

The T-junction in Castlerea, Co Roscommon, where Det Garda Horkan was shot dead was on Friday marked with bullet holes in businesses on all three sides of what Garda sources described as a “manic attack”.

A wooden cross, which included the dead man’s photograph and some rosary beads, had been placed at the junction and many people left floral tributes at the scene, which had been washed down before the town reopened at about 3.30pm. Markings on the road showed where bullet casings had fallen after 15 shots were discharged by the killer from a Garda-issue pistol being carried by Det Garda Harkin as he patrolled alone on the night he was murdered.

His remains were on Friday evening taken from Co Roscommon, where he was shot dead on Wednesday night, to his native Co Mayo in a cortege under Garda escort. There were emotional scenes as the cortege stopped outside Ballaghaderreen Garda station where his colleagues formed a guard of honour and later when it arrived in Charlestown where the Horkan family are still based and are very well-known, especially in GAA circles.

Charlestown funeral

His funeral will take place at St James’s Church, Charlestown, at noon on Sunday. Due to public health guidelines gardaí across the State will parade at their local stations and observe a one-minute silence at noon on Sunday.

Det Garda Horkan had served in Ballaghaderreen until very recently when he was transferred on promotion to detective to Castlerea, Co Roscommon, where he had previously served for over a decade. He was shot dead in Castlerea on Wednesday night just before midnight after stopping to speak to a man, apparently because he was acting suspiciously with a motorbike on the junction of Main Street and St Patrick Street.

Det Garda Colm Horkan’s remains are driven through Ballaghaderreen on Friday evening after being released from hospital. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
Det Garda Colm Horkan’s remains are driven through Ballaghaderreen on Friday evening after being released from hospital. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

The man, who is from just outside Castlerea, and Det Garda Horkan became involved in a scuffle, with the 43-year-old suspect somehow grabbing the detective’s gun and shooting him dead.

The suspected killer was arrested by two uniformed, unarmed gardaí who arrived seconds after the attack. The suspect made no effort to flee and is said to have done press-ups after the killing. A number of sources said the man had mental health issues and was regarded as a heavy drinker and cannabis user.

Bullet holes

The town reopened after it had been completely sealed off by gardaí in the early hours of Thursday, with all businesses closed through the day. While some shops and other businesses reopened late on Friday afternoon when the Garda cordon on all approach roads into the town was lifted, many remained shut.

Bullet holes were clear to see on the exterior wall of Mulligan Menswear at the murder scene, while a bullet had broken the front window of Gannon Travel across the street. On the third side of the junction, beside Boyle’s dental surgery, another bullet hole was visible in a steel gate.

The suspect in the case is a close associate of a local drug dealer who was recently targeted by the gardaí in Castlerea. A number of local people said the suspect appeared to have a somewhat transient lifestyle, having been living in the UK for some time until recently when he settled elsewhere in Co Roscommon. The man has a number of convictions, though not for serious violent crime. However, he had called to Castlerea Garda station on Wednesday and was said to have behaved abusively there.