Speaking from their home in Tipperary, heartbroken parents Martin and Caroline say there is no way their son, 24-year-old Michael Dwyer, could have been involved.
"Six months ago he was in college in Galway Mayo Institute of Technology," his father Martin told the Evening Herald. "For something like this to happen, I just can't get my head around it," he said.
Dwyer's distraught mother, Caroline, said: "He was my baby. I don't believe any of this. Nothing they say makes sense."
Dwyer is believed to have headed for Bolivia in October after working for a security firm in Galway.
He called his parents in February to say he was staying on with the security firm he was working with until the end of the year.
That was the last they heard until this week when Bolivian news reports said that Dwyer was gunned down by an elite army unit.
Dwyer, who was referred to as a “soldier of fortune,” was killed along with two other men in a dramatic police shootout in the opposition stronghold of Santa Cruz in eastern Bolivia.
Bolivian police say they were were attempting to arrest Dwyer, along with Bolivian Eduardo Rosza Flores, 49, and Romanian sniper Magyarosi Arpak when the three fled to a nearby hotel.
The group, which was also balmed for a dynamite attack on the home of a Bolivian cardinal, detonated a grenade blowing out the hotel’s windows amid the gunfight.
Police commander Victor Hugo Escóbar said he believed that all three were trained in the same paramilitary center because they all had similar tattoos. He said they were “very dangerous and determined to launch attacks”.
La Prensa, a Bolivian newspaper, described Dwyer as a soldier of fortune who fought in the international brigade of the extreme right-wing Croatian Liberation Movement.