By Gerard Couzens
Irish man shot nine times in the head and chest front of shocked onlookers in popular holiday destination
Gerard Kavanagh was shot dead in a bar on the Costa del Sol
Irish gangster Gerard 'Hatchet' Kavanagh has been shot dead at a Costa del Sol bar by two masked gunmen.
The armed pair burst into the bar this afternoon and fired nine bullets into him.
He tried to escape after seeing them coming through the front door but collapsed in a pool of blood with gunshot wounds to his arms and back.
A burnt-out BMW X3 was discovered nearby shortly after the shooting, which happened in broad daylight around 5.25pm local time at Harmons Irish Bar in Elviria a 20-minute drive east of Marbella.
Police are tonight combing the BMW to see if it was used as a getaway vehicle.
A source said: "The gunmen were wearing Balaclavas and were dressed from head to toe in black.
"The shooting had all the hallmarks of a professional hit.
"It looks like the they picked a time when they knew the bar wasn’t going to be busy.
"It is believed the victim was trying to flee when he was shot because many of the nine bullets he took hit him in the back.
"A BMW X3 was found burnt out a few miles away. It is being examined now to see if it is connected with the shooting."
A police spokesman said: "A fatal shooting has occurred near to Marbella. We are investigating.
"I cannot confirm the victim’s identity at this stage.
"A local described the victim as aged in his mid-30s."
Kavanagh's body was taken to the local Costa del Sol state hospital for X-rays to determine how many bullets had hit him - it is thought he was hit nine times.
The scene of the shooting is near to the luxury Don Carlos Hotel, which this weekend is hosting the 19th US-Spain forum.
The annual event focuses on strengthening the relationship between Spain and the United States in a number of areas.
The Spanish ambassador to the USA and the American ambassador to Spain were among guests who opened the three-day event and security had been stepped up significantly in the area.