It was a day like any other, but within the space of just a few minutes events took a tragic turn and a town was waking up to news that would bring back awful memories, writes Eavan Murray
Detective Garda Colm Horkan began his shift at 4pm on Wednesday. He had spent the afternoon watching racing with his father.
He left his home in Charlestown, Co Mayo, heading for work 35km away in Castlerea, Co Roscommon
It was a day like any other and he got a handover from his colleagues in Castlerea, who were signing off from the day shift.
It is understood there were no major ongoing concerns of a criminal nature in the area.
But within the space of just a few minutes, events took a tragic and dramatic turn.
Shortly before 11pm a number of calls were received directly at Castlerea garda station reporting that a local man, known to gardaí, was driving a motorbike in an erratic manner up and down Main Street in the town.
It's understood the motorcyclist was speeding without lights and causing fear to local residents.
Following the reports, a number of gardaí began to patrol.
Shortly before midnight, Det-Gda Horkan, who was on his own, came upon both the motorcyclist and another man walking together along Main Street.
A number of eyewitnesses have reported they then saw the motorcyclist flee the scene before any altercation began.
He was not involved in the shocking events that followed.
Witnesses then saw two men involved in a tussle.
One of them was Det-Gda Horkan, who was calling for back-up on his Garda-issued mobile radio.
Baniel Novac, who works in Norio's takeaway just a couple of hundred metres from where the tragedy occurred, told the Irish Independent he heard up to "six or seven" separate bursts of gunfire.
The sound came initially in two short bursts, then a pause and then up to four more bursts of gunfire.
Through an interpreter, he described complete silence for a short period and then he saw a Garda car racing past the takeaway with the siren blaring.
The suspect fired 15 shots, the entire magazine of the Sig semi-automatic pistol, at Det-Gda Horkan and he was hit at least five times. Windows of local businesses shattered in the hail of bullets.
Two colleagues of Det-Gda Horkan arrived at the scene within seconds and arrested the suspect.
A source close to the investigation told the Irish Independent: "We are very fortunate there wasn't a bigger tragedy here. These officers arrived in the immediate aftermath.
"They were driving by on a different call. They were like Colm, two guards out doing their jobs. Protecting the community."
A crew of paramedics who happened to be in the area arrived within minutes and tried to resuscitate the detective. But his injuries were catastrophic, and he was pronounced dead by a local doctor a short time later.
A murder investigation was about to get under way.
Fr John McManus, the parish priest in Castlerea, said he received a call from the Garda station at around midnight to attend the scene and perform a final blessing and the last rites.
"Sadly, like many of my own colleagues, you're never sure what the next phone call may be," he said.
"Often when you do hear a call from the Garda station you are going out to something very tragic.
"Little did I know it was one of their own colleagues.
"Always and forever they are so professional on the scene in their guidance and direction, and I thought so poignantly in the stillness and silence and shock of the incident that they were there praying with me for their colleague."
All of Castlerea was put into an effective lockdown, with Main Street and St Patrick's Street, the two main arteries into the town, completely blocked off by gardaí.
A blue tent was set up at a T-junction in the heart of the small town in Co Roscommon, opposite the dentist's office, Mulligan's Menswear, travel agent's and the AIB bank.
A fleet of Garda cars, marked and unmarked, monitored the streets and the Garda Technical Bureau arrived.
With the town asleep, some lights came on in houses as the alarm was raised.
Castlerea was waking up to news that brought back awful memories from decades past.
Former local councillor Danny Burke recalled the two Castlerea-stationed gardaí who were killed 40 years ago.
Det-Gda John Morley and Gda Henry Byrne were both gunned down at Shannon's Cross, about 30 minutes from Castlerea, on July 7, 1980.
They had been in a patrol car responding to an armed robbery at the Bank of Ireland in Ballaghadereen.
"I haven't felt as sad since 1980," said Mr Burke.
"It brought back awful sad memories to me. I haven't felt as sad since 1980 and I'm going to take a while to get over it.
"These men are out there protecting us and it's a very sad thing that they can't go about their duties, this is how they are rewarded."
Local TD Denis Naughten said he was "absolutely shocked and saddened" to hear of the tragedy.
He said at age 49, Det-Gda Horkan would have been only a child when the two gardaí were killed. "He may not have been old enough to remember it but all of the community would remember their tragic deaths.
"This brings all of that back, particularly to the community in west Roscommon and around Castlerea. It adds to the tragedy."
Daylight brought floods of tributes from all corners of Ireland and beyond.
From the Taoiseach, President and colleagues of the fallen garda.
There were more local tributes too, including one from Charlestown Sarsfields GAA club, where Det-Gda Horkan had earned the nickname 'The Bear'.
What we have here is a random act, a violent act, that led to the death of Det-Gda Horkan, so it is tragic and it is an attack upon us all. Garda CommissionerDrew Harris
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris visited the town and described the brutal killing of Det-Gda Horkan as "a random act".
"Colm served the communities he worked in with distinction and pride during his 24 years as a member of An Garda Síochána," said Mr Harris.
"Detective Garda Colm Horkan is the 89th member of An Garda Síochána killed in the line of duty. Today is a terrible reminder of the significant sacrifices, including the ultimate sacrifice, that gardaí make to keep people safe."
Speaking to reporters in Castlerea yesterday afternoon, he said there was no sense that the death was linked to organised crime, saying it was "a random act".
"As we know in this time, this was in effect a conversation between Det-Gda Horkan and a member of the public," he said.
"There was then an altercation during which the service pistol which Gda Horkan was carrying was then used against him and he was shot and fatally wounded.
"He received very prompt and professional medical attention but to no avail and died from his injuries."
Mr Harris said that Det-Gda Horkan's death was an "attack upon society".
"I can certainly say at this moment in time there is no sense of a bigger picture, organised crime or subversive," he said.
"What we have here is a random act, a violent act, that led to the death of Det-Gda Horkan, so it is tragic and it is an attack upon us all.
"It is correct to say that it's an attack upon society," he added.
The commissioner appealed to the public to help with the investigation as there is a video of the attack circulating social media.
Colm gave his life protecting the community he had served with distinction and courage.Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
He urged anyone who was in Castlerea Town Centre on Wednesday night at 11pm-12.30am to come forward if they have information.
Far from Castlerea, on the steps of Government Buildings, the shooting of a serving garda brought pause to a political week dominated by government formation talks.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar praised Det-Gda Horkan for the "courage" and "sacrifice" he showed during his more than two decades serving with An Garda Síochána.
Mr Varadkar offered his condolence and support to Det-Gda Horkan's family.
"Colm gave his life protecting the community he had served with distinction and courage during his 24 years as a member of An Garda Síochána," he said.
"His story is the same as the thousands of men and women who wear the uniform. A story of courage, sacrifice and service."
Our gardaí are our guardians of the peace and defenders of the rule of law, he said. They are role models.
"This tragedy is a heart-wrenching reminder of how much we owe our gardaí for the work they do all over the country.
"They protect and serve our citizens, our communities and our country, every day putting themselves on the front line of crime prevention on behalf of all of us," he added.
Meanwhile, in the second largest town in Co Roscommon, disbelief was being replaced by grief.
Up to 200 people gathered in the town centre last night for a vigil in Det-Gda Horkan's memory.
A small green marquee was set up in the Fairgreen in the Main Street and tributes were led by local Fianna Fáil Councillor Paschal Fitzmaurice and parish priest Fr McManus.
Heavy rain lashed down as the small town mourned the passing of the garda.
"The terrible sad occasion that happened here last night is a tragedy that I suppose we will never, ever forget," said Mr Fitzmaurice.
District Officer Superintendent Goretti Sheridan also paid tributes to a "friend and colleague". "I want to thank everyone for coming this evening, it means a lot to us.
"We're obviously devastated at the death of our friend and colleague Colm," she said.
Fr McManus said that the community had particularly felt the blow of the now three losses because they were "very much a part of the community" and widely respected in the Roscommon town.
"Our prayers and thoughts are very much with his family, relatives and his colleagues here in Castlerea, and gardaí everywhere," he said.
Additional reporting by Gabija Gataveckaite, Conor Feehan and Tom Brady.
The murder of a Garda detective, Colm Horkan, in Co Roscommon has sent shockwaves much further afield across this island. He died after a struggle with an individual who seized his gun and fired 15 shots at the then defenceless officer.