Murder squad detectives have released a photo of an innocent man shot dead in a botched gangland attack as they renewed calls for witnesses.
Martin O’Rourke was gunned down on Dublin’s Sheriff Street on Thursday in the crossfire of an attempt to kill an armed robber with links to one of two warring crime gangs.
The victim, a drug user who had been helped by homeless campaigner Fr Peter McVerry, was outside Noctor’s bar when a lone gunman on a bicycle approached.
Locals reported the intended target was alerted by an accomplice and in the confusion, as a crowd of people scattered, the young father was shot while running across the road at the junction of Oriel Street.
It is believed to be the fifth murder in a bitter feud between the Hutch and Kinahan families and their associates.
Mr O’Rourke, understood to be a father-of-three in his 20s and from the north inner city, was described by Fr McVerry as a “harmless lovable young fellow”.
He revealed he had helped him to stop using drugs several years ago and brought him to a clinic in Athlone for treatment but he had subsequently relapsed.
Gardai said his family have appealed for privacy.
The intended target lives round the corner from where the shooting happened.
Witnesses reported how an accomplice shoved him out of the way as the gunman neared a group of people outside the pub on a black bike and pulled a gun.
A bike and a gun were later recovered by gardai.
Detectives said the killer wore dark clothes and was well built and that he ran off after dumping the bike at the end of Sheriff Street.
The killing happened less than 100 yards from a community and childcare centre and minutes before children were to go home for the afternoon and others were due to arrive.
Since the early 2000s armed Garda patrols have been a frequent sight in the area, a stone’s throw from Dublin’s IFSC.
The first security operations were launched to stem a bloody feud in a gang once led by Christy Griffin and more recently officers have been dispatched to the streets as a war between some members of the Hutch family and their associates and the Spain-based Kinahans worsened.
It has been blamed for several gun murders, including one in Spain, two in Dublin and one in Ratoath, Co Meath.
Sheriff Street is about a mile from where taxi driver Eddie Hutch, brother of Gerry “The Monk” Hutch, was shot dead at his home off North Strand in February.
The Hutch-Kinahan feud spiralled into a killing spree when Gary Hutch was shot dead in an apartment complex near Marbella on the Costa del Sol last September.
His killing is believed to have been avenged in the Regency attack, which claimed the life of David Byrne, an associate of the Kinahan family.
Within days Eddie Hutch was dead, and at the end of last month Noel Duggan, an old friend of suspected armed robber Gerry “The Monk” Hutch, was shot dead at his home in Ratoath.
It is not the first time witnesses have reported seeing a gunman flee a broad-daylight murder on Sheriff Street on a bike.
Stephen Byrne, 32, was shot dead near St Laurence O’Toole Church in July 2007 with a killer cycling from the scene.