NewsCrime Desk

Our man witnesses chaos first hand at scene of gangland hit

Our man witnesses chaos first hand at scene of gangland hit

We heard the first gunshot ring out as we sat in a car parked a few metres around the corner from the Regency Hotel.

Myself and a photographer had been watching the hotel as we were aware the weigh-in for an MGM boxing event would be a magnet for big-name gangsters.

Minutes earlier we had watched as well-known associates of the Kinahan Cartel, including Liam Roe, David Byrne and his brother Liam, made their way into the venue.

Daniel Kinahan, who runs MGM with boxer Matthew Macklin, was inside the venue as the weigh-in was taking place.

People often confuse gunshots for fireworks because no-one expects a shooting to take place in front of them, but considering the people present we instantly knew exactly what the sound we heard was.

Within seconds, dozens of people ran away from the hotel as fast as they could. Some fled on foot towards the Swords Road, while others raced off in cars at high speed.

At the same time we turned the corner towards the hotel entrance and saw complete chaos unfold in front of our eyes, as a hit team were opening fire inside and outside the hotel.

Those who hadn’t escaped by the front of the hotel were running for their lives towards a car park at the back of the hotel.

To our left a group of people huddled in a corner near the hotel, terrified they would be targeted.

Some bravely used their bodies to try to cover other people in the group and prevent them from being shot.

A few metres ahead of us the hit team’s van was outside the hotel with its side door open.

The driver was pointing a rifle out the window at a man who was cowering down near bushes to the right of the van.

We heard a number of shots from inside the hotel, where two gunmen armed with assault rifles and dressed as gardaí in SWAT-team style gear had opened fire.

Hunt is on for hit-team that carried out the most shocking gangland slaying in Irish criminal history

The driver of the van continued to point his weapon out his window as more gunshots rang out.

We later learned some of the shots we heard killed David Byrne and injured two other men.

Other shots were fired outside the hotel yards from us.

Our pulses raced as a scene that would be too dramatic even for Love/Hate unfolded in front of our eyes.

Seconds passed before we spotted two men armed with handguns running from the direction of the car park at the rear of the hotel towards the van.

We could hear the screams and shouts of people who had run towards the car park to get away from the gunmen.

One of the gunmen was dressed as a woman with heavy make-up and a wig on, while the other was wearing a flat cap.

Foreign hit-squad used to carry out military style rampage

It is believed they had gone into the hotel to try to carry out surveillance before the men armed with assault rifles moved in.

Despite the fact there was CCTV outside the hotel, neither of those two gunmen wore masks and their faces were clearly visible.

As those two gunmen sprinted towards the van the driver was still pointing his assault rifle out the window at terrified witnesses.

He soon turned his attention on us, spotting we were only metres away. 

Unsure if we were gardaí or someone trying to block in the gang, he turned the weapon and pointed it directly at us.

The barrel was only pointed at us for a few seconds, but it felt like minutes. 

Fearing he was about to open fire we reversed a short distance back before we spotted gunmen dressed as a Garda coming out of the front of the hotel making their way to the van.

One shouted: “He’s not f***ing in there, go, go, f***ing go.”

Around the same time the other gunmen in civilian clothes made their way into the van which then drove down towards the rear of the hotel.

Those present were fearful the hit team would continue shooting, but instead they drove towards the gated Grace Park Manor apartment block at the back of the hotel, directly beside a car park where people had fled in terror.

The killers then waited for around 15 seconds as the electronic gates slowly rolled back and let them through the complex.

Killers stuck at gates

Clearly they had planned their attack as the complex needs an electronic fob to open the gates. They escaped through the complex through another entrance on Grace Park Road.

We drove towards the gate and watched as groups of shocked witnesses struggled to come to terms with the sheer horror of what had happened. 

As we drove back towards the hotel we watched as onlookers stood around, not quite sure what to do.

Boxer Anthony Fitzgerald was putting members of his family into a car before speeding from the scene.

Another boxer, Jamie Kavanagh, whose father and uncle were killed in gangland hits in the past two years, vomited as he made his way to a car in the car park.

A clearly shook Liam Roe paced around the same car park at the front of the hotel as a group of pals circled around him.

Liam Roe

Roe, who is a cousin of David Byrne, escaped death in a similar incident less than four months ago. 

The same gang believed to have carried the Regency shooting are the prime suspects in a hit attempt at another MGM boxing event at the Red Cow Hotel in Dublin in November. In that incident the gunmen tried to shoot Roe, but the weapon jammed.

Another man injured in the incident could be seen limping in the car park.

Inside the lobby of the hotel Liam Byrne stood over the body of his brother, distraught at what had unfolded, saying: “That’s my brother.”

Liam Byrne

Back outside, gardaí started to arrive at the scene and spoke to several witnesses. 

One well-known gangster told one Garda to “f*** off” when he asked him his name.

Other witnesses started shouting at a cameraman who was present.

People slowly started to filter out of the hotel several minutes later when they were told the coast was clear.

Some gathered in groups, shocked and speechless, trying to understand what had happened. Some were crying and others fled from the scene.

Soon the place was swarming with gardaí and paramedics.

One of the injured men was brought out of the hotel on a stretcher in front of us and rushed to hospital.

Others gathered around stunned. As the afternoon turned to evening, boxers and others caught up in the event made their way from the hotel with bags and suitcases.  

Later, two men walked up from the Grace Park Manor apartment complex and asked this reporter what had happened. After being told what occurred, one of them said: “What kind of world are we living in?”