Police investigating the murder of Tipperary-born Tom Walsh believe he was gunned down by a disgruntled former employee, whom he fired two years ago.
Walsh, a married father of three from Templemore, was shot dead in March while closing up the restaurant he managed near Daytona Beach, Florida. He was only 43.
On initial investigation, the killing was believed to be the result of a botched robbery attempt, with the killers running off with the restaurant’s profits from that night. However, police now believe that a double suicide on May 10th may hold links to the murder of the popular Irishman.
James Seagraves, 29, and his girlfriend Kayla Nemoto, 20, died of apparent self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the head following an intense stand-off with police at their home.
Seagraves, who had only just been released from jail in early March, is thought to have carried out a series of armed robberies in Florida immediately after leaving prison, including at the Mainstreet Grill where Walsh was murdered.
While initially believed to be a random attack, it has emerged that Seagreaves and Walsh actually knew each other, with Walsh firing Seagreaves from the establishment two years earlier.
Police went to Seagreaves home to serve a warrant in connection with Walsh’s murder, but Seagreaves and his girlfriend, who was said to be pregnant with a baby girl, barricaded themselves into their apartment.
After a stand-off, a SWAT team was sent into the home, only to discover the pair dead inside.
The family of Tom Walsh has demanded to know what background checks were made on Seagreaves before the restaurant hired him.
“Obviously it turned out he was a very dangerous individual,” said Walsh’s brother, Brian. “The job of firing this guy was left to Thomas a couple of years ago. He was living the American dream. He had built a great life for himself and this piece of scum took it away.”
Tom Walsh was buried in April at the Templemore Church, Co. Tipperary. Tom’s 12-year-old daughter, Kira, led the congregation in a simple prayer and asked for support for her family in the days ahead. Joined by up to 1,000 mourners, the family remembered the man known to his American friends as “Irish Tom.”
Walsh’s sister, Helen, described the killing as “senseless.”
“But there’s no going back. Tom had a good life, he had a great sense of fun,” she said. “He was a regular Irish guy who went to the States and made good. My mom would say he was a cut above a regular guy.”