| 1.1°C Belfast

Gunman opens fire on woman in Mayo shop

A woman was in a serious condition in hospital last night after a lone gunman walked into a supermarket and opened fire on her with a shotgun.

The gunman struck about 6.30pm when he rushed into the Costcutter shop, where the woman worked, on Main Street, Balla, about six miles from Castlebar, Co Mayo.

He was armed with a single- barrelled shotgun. He fired one shot, dropped the weapon in the shop and fled the scene.

The middle-aged woman, named locally as Dympna Walsh, suffered leg injuries. She lay injured on the floor until ambulance personnel arrived and brought her to Mayo General Hospital.

Although seriously hurt, her injuries are not thought to be life threatening.

Gardai immediately launched a major manhunt and later arrested a man. He was being detained last night at Castlebar garda station. Gardai recovered the weapon at the scene.

They are now trying to establish a motive behind the shooting but the incident was not a robbery and nothing was believed to have been taken from the shop.

It is understood the injured woman and the gunman knew each other. The woman worked in the shop run by Peter Gaughan. The local post office is also in the shop, which was renovated last year.

Last night local people speculated that a personal issue may have been the trigger for the attack. "People know who did this," said one man. "This was not a hold-up. This could be a personal issue here rather than a robbery."

News of the attack spread quickly through the village as rush-hour traffic from Castlebar passed through the area.

Fine Gael Castlebar Councillor Cyril Burke said people in the area were in shock.

"Nothing like this has ever happened there before. People could not believe it happened. They hear of it happening in Dublin, but not in their own area," he said.

The man was arrested in the Claremorris area of Co Mayo. Armed gardai had set up roadblocks in the area after the shooting. The shotgun recovered will be sent to Garda headquarters for forensics. Supt Peter O'Boyle said the suspect ran from the scene initially but may have had a vehicle parked nearby. He said the man had been carrying a "full-length firearm". Gardai would not speculate on the motive.

Gardai appealed for any witnesses to contact them. Information should be given to gardai at Castlebar garda station on 094 9038200 or through the garda confidential line on 1800 666 111.

Belfast Telegraph