A gym where a father was gunned down in front of his young son is a known meeting spot for some of Sydney’s biggest gangsters, underworld sources have revealed.
Taha Sabbagh, 40, was shot dead outside the Elite Fight Force gym on Carlingford Street, in Sefton, western Sydney, at about 6.30am on Thursday.
The 40-year-old father was dropping his 12-year-old son off at an early morning boxing session when he was ambushed by a masked man who ran up to his Mercedes SUV and shot him up to six times.
Despite the efforts of paramedics, Mr Sabbagh died at the scene.
It’s since been revealed that frequent gym-goers at Elite Fight Force include high-ranking members of the Comanchero bikie gang and senior figures from Middle Eastern crime families.
Taha Sabbagh, 40, (pictured) was shot dead while dropping off his 12-year-old son off at a boxing session at a gym in western Sydney
Underworld sources claim Elite Fight Force gym on Carlingford Street, in Sefton, (pictured) is a known meeting spot for some of Sydney’s most notorious criminals
‘There would be a few there who have a heap of enemies and would be targets,’ one underworld source told the Daily Telegraph.
Another said gyms have become ‘de facto clubhouses’ for crime syndicates and bikies.
As investigations into the shooting continue, police are yet to rule out the possibility the killing was a case of mistaken identity.
NSW Police Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty said police believed it was a ‘targeted attack’ but whether Mr Sabbagh was the ‘intended target’ would be investigated.
One source said it was possible Mr Sabbagh may have been caught up in a dodgy deal.
‘He would have been mixing with some very connected people in that gym and anything from a bad business deal to an insult could get you killed,’ they said.
The gym also counts among its patrons members from the notorious Haouchar and Mariam families, 7News reports.
The Mariams and Haouchars are in alliance with the infamous Alameddine crime network, which has been linked to drug syndicates across Sydney and bloody conflicts against rival clan, the Hamzys.
Daily Mail Australia is not suggesting the owners or staff at the gym have knowledge or are involved in any criminal activity.
Superintendent Doherty said Mr Sabbagh was not well known to police but was ‘associated to people who are well known to police and have strong criminal activity connected to them’.
‘It bears the hallmarks of an organised crime related murder. However that still doesn’t mitigate how poor this is, having a 12-year-old boy having to witness this,’ he said.
Taha Sabbagh, 40, with his children next to the black Mercedes he was shot dead while dropping his eldest son off at a gym session
Mr Sabbagh’s car after the shooting on Thursday morning, with a tarp covering his body nearby
Police comforted Mr Sabbagh’s 12-year-old boy after the shooting
The Mazda 3 used in the shooting was later found burnt out at the nearby Birrong Train Station
Mr Sabbagh was a top driver for several luxury chauffeur services around Sydney, regularly ferrying high-level clients to meetings and parties, and cashed-up couples to weddings.
His son was not injured in the shooting but was heard crying out for help by witnesses.
Mr Sabbagh’s uncle Nasser Sabbagh told Daily Mail Australia the luxury car driver wrapped his arms around his son to protect him as he was shot.
‘Why do people kill other people?’ he asked. ‘He’s a good man. Quiet man. No criminal record. He goes to work. Spends time with his kids.’
Paramedics desperately tried to revive Mr Sabbagh, who was a common presence at the MMA gym. He was unable to be saved and died at the scene.
One witness, Steve, was first on the scene and told Daily Mail Australia he heard six gunshots as he worked in an office across the road.
‘I heard the shots and ran over and the young fella, his son, was screaming “help my dad’s been shot”,’ he said.
‘I looked inside and there was a man in front of the car, bleeding and slumped over the console. Someone had obviously shot him, there was blood everywhere.’
Steve said despite being shot up to six times, Mr Sabbagh appeared to still be alive.
‘Within minutes there was police and ambulance everywhere, it was a pretty hectic sight,’ he said.
‘They were working on him for a while.’
Police believe they are hunting two gunmen who used a Mazda 3 as a getaway car, which was later found burnt out at nearby Birrong Train Station.
Distressed family and friends flooded the street where he was gunned down