Tributes from devastated colleagues and politicians poured in as Ireland grieved the loss of Detective Colm Horkan, above, the 89th member Garda force member killed in the line of duty
A murder investigation has been launched after an Irish police detective nicknamed ‘The Bear’ was shot dead in a small town north west of Dublin.
Detective Garda Colm Horkan, 49, was murdered in the sleepy town of Castlerea, 78 miles north-west of Dublin, just before midnight.
The detective, from Charleston in Co Mayo, is believed to have intervened in an unfolding incident as he was returning to the station.
Mr Horkan, who served in the Garda for 24 years, was allegedly shot with his own weapon during the altercation.
A man in his 40s has been been arrested and is being held at Castlerea Garda Station.
A heavy police presence remained at the scene today as officers closed the centre of Castlerea to traffic while investigations are conducted.
President of the Garda Representative Association Jim Mulligan said ‘brave’ Mr Colm ‘died as result of injuries sustained’ in the incident.
Tributes from devastated colleagues and politicians poured in as Ireland grieved the loss of the 89th member Garda force member killed in the line of duty.
A Garda vehicle is stationed behind tape and barriers as investigations remain underway to establish details of the incident
The main street close to the scene of the murder has been sealed off by Garda
Mr Colm joined An Garda Siochana in 1995 and was described as an experienced detective who was greatly respected by colleagues.
He was heavily involved in the local Charlestown Sarsfields GAA club, and was affectionately known on the pitch as ‘The Bear’, The Independent said.
He lived on the outskirts of the town with his father and was considered a pillar of the community, home to around 2,000 people.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said he was ‘deeply saddened’ at the news of Colm’s death, and said he ‘served the communities he worked in with distinction and pride.
‘Today is a terrible reminder of the significant sacrifices, including the ultimate sacrifice, that Gardai make to keep people safe.’
Irish President Michael D Higgins said news of Colm’s death had ‘come as a shock to us all’.
‘An Garda Siochana play a crucial role in our communities and this loss of life is traumatic for our society as a whole.’
A members of the fire service carries flowers to the scene as the local community reels in shock at the killing of Colm Horkan
The scene in Castelere shows a Garda van blocking the road behind police tape along a street lined with local businesses and homes
Irish Premier Leo Varadkar said: ‘Every day our gardai put themselves on the front line of crime prevention, on behalf of all of us’.
‘This requires regular acts of bravery and courage. Sometimes the outcome is tragic and a garda makes the ultimate sacrifice in the course of their duties.’
Colm is survived by his father, sister and four brothers, and the shooting has been referred to the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission because the incident involved a Garda firearm.
Ireland’s justice minister, Charlie Flanagan, offered his condolences to the ‘brave’ detective and described his death as a ‘loss to wider Irish society. His heroism and the debt of gratitude which we owe to him and his family will never be forgotten.’
A Garda vain remains at the scene behind tape cordoning off a road
The Policing Authority, the Garda’s oversight body, said the killing of a garda is ‘an attack on the essence and the foundations of our democracy
Flanagan added that people have been particularly dependent on the gardai during the coronavirus pandemic.
He said they ‘have been selflessly working to protect our health and wellbeing, in the best tradition of the service’.
Antoinette Cunningham, general secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, said it was a ‘sad, sad day’ for the Garda.
‘Devastated to hear this Garda Colleague has passed away,’ she tweeted.
The Policing Authority, the Garda’s oversight body, said the killing of a garda is ‘an attack on the essence and the foundations of our democracy.
‘It is a fundamental assault on the principle of equality.’
Politician Denis Naughten who represents Roscommon-Galway, said the community was in shock.
‘We are absolutely devastated, shocked and saddened by what we heard overnight.
Mr Naughten said the killing evoked memories of the shooting of the two gardai in 1980.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said he was ‘deeply saddened’ at the news of Colm’s death, and said he ‘served the communities he worked in with distinction and pride’. Harris is pictured above centre arriving at the scene today
Detective Garda John Morley and Garda Henry Byrne were shot dead by armed bank robbers near Castlerea in the village of Loughglynn.
‘It’s just coming up on their 40th anniversary so that will add to the sense of loss within the community over the coming days,’ he said.
North of the border, Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable Simon Byrne offered his condolences.
‘Awful news this morning coming from @GardaTraffic with the death of a Garda colleague in Castlerea,’ he tweeted.
‘Thoughts from all @PoliceServiceNI with his family, friends and colleagues at such a difficult time.’