Digital art for Daily Tele
Digital art for Daily Tele

NSW terrorised by guns: 29 shootings in 33 days

A wild spate of public shootings has gripped NSW at a rate of almost one every day, as bikie feuds and low-level drug wars terrorise suburban neighbourhoods.

Police have revealed there have been 29 public place shootings since August 1, of which 18 were in Sydney and 11 in the regions.

Police now suspect there is a link between the two most prominent attacks - the gangland execution of Com­anchero stalwart Fares Abounader on Saturday night and the botched hit on Tur­rella businessman Mohamed Saab three days earlier.

Comanchero stalwart Fares Abounader was shot dead in Panania.
Comanchero stalwart Fares Abounader was shot dead in Panania.

NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith said detectives had narrowed the hit on Abounader down to a handful of theories.

"We've uncovered at least five indicators around why (Mr Abounader's) shooting occurred … we've had discussions with particular (bikie gangs) about acceptable behaviour. Anyone that participates in a public place shooting carries 25 years to life in prison," Mr Smith said.

 

 

He said Abounader and Saab had alleged links to bikie gangs but detectives still had a "long road" to firmly establish their attacks were directly linked.

Criminal Groups Squad officers have drawn up a list of 20 people they will visit today and tomorrow in an effort to suppress any reprisal attacks and to gather more evidence.

The latest in the wave of deadly attacks was a public shooting in Fairfield Heights were shots were fired into a home on Wednesday night. No one was injured in the incident on Stella St.

On Tuesday, drive-by shootings targeted two homes at St Johns Park and Punchbowl, while the occupants were home on both occasions.

Police investigate after shots fired in Fairfield Heights: Police have established a crime scene at Stella Street, Fairfield after shots were fired into the front of a home.

Nobody was injured but it was enough to prompt NSW Police to schedule a press conference yesterday, pledging to "come down hard" and also reach out for help from intelligence agencies.

Mr Smith said the NSW Crime Commission, which has special powers to put ­witnesses through secret, ­coercive hearings, had been brought in along with the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.

 

CCTV footage from Turella, where Mohamed Saab was shot in his ribs and shoulder.
CCTV footage from Turella, where Mohamed Saab was shot in his ribs and shoulder.

 

He said small calibre pistols were being investigated as the main weapon in most of the shootings, adding the spike in violence was due to both personal feuds and drug trade gone sour.

"There's a lot of interpersonal conflict that's occurred, there are low level disputes occurring over drug dealing … we have seen COVID-19 putting some pressure in terms of the ability of organised crime to move illicit prohibited drugs into the state," he said.

Fares Abounader, in the white singlet, was captured on CCTV footage at Sydney Airport domestic terminal in 2009 when Hells Angels associate Anthony Zervas was bashed and killed in a gang fight.
Fares Abounader, in the white singlet, was captured on CCTV footage at Sydney Airport domestic terminal in 2009 when Hells Angels associate Anthony Zervas was bashed and killed in a gang fight.

"There is some indication that it's reflecting a higher than average price for drugs, which it is possible that some of this low level stuff is completely occurring around the payment of drugs."

The fact that the hits on Saab and Abounader were the only ones linked to each other means another 26 attacks were individual fallouts. The risk that an innocent member of the public could soon be caught in the crossfire is a major police concern.

"In terms of public place shootings, obviously there's a fair bit of fear that goes with that, there's a fair bit of danger the public obviously get impacted with," Mr Smith said. "In terms of public place shootings we have more than successfully (caught) organised crime members who have been involved in this stuff previously."

Police search Knoll Ave, Turella for clues. Picture: Brett Costello
Police search Knoll Ave, Turella for clues. Picture: Brett Costello

Acting Assistant Commissioner Peter McKenna, in charge of the south west ­reg­ion, said police would "come down hard" on shooters regardless of their affiliations.

"It's not acceptable under any circumstances. There are good people in these communities who don't need to put up with this," Mr McKenna said.

Of the 28 shootings across the state, police have arrested people for eight of them and are confident they know the suspect individual in another nine. The others remain under investigation.

Originally published as NSW terrorised by guns: 29 shootings in 33 days