A man shot dead outside a gym in Sydney may have been the victim of a case of mistaken identity.
Taha Sabbagh was gunned down outside Elite Fight Force gym in Sefton, in western Sydney, on Thursday.
The attackers’ intended target, Hany Sbat, drives the same type of car as Sabbagh’s Mercedes SUV, which is now a crucial piece of evidence in the investigation, the Daily Telegraph reported.
Mr Sabbagh was attacked by a masked gunman while walking to his car with a cup of coffee.
Police detectives are considering the theory that Mr Sabbagh was mistakenly identified as Mr Sbat, the owner of the gym, who is currently out of the country.
40-year-old Taha Sabbagh (left) with Elite Fight Force gym owner Hany Sbat. Mr Sabbagh died on Thursday after being shot outside the gym in Sefton.
While detectives are looking into whether Mr Sabbagh had any enemies, his limited criminal history suggests otherwise.
Mr Sabbagh and Mr Sbat have been friends for a long time and were seen together at the gym and at MMA events over the years.
“They (the gunmen) just took a chance, it’s not like they stopped to check if it was him,” a police source said in a report by the Daily Telegraph.
“He was an easy target at that time.”
Mr Sabbagh was shot at least six times as his screaming 12-year-old son sat “right next to him” in his car
“All I heard was a young guy screaming: ‘Help me, help me, my dad’s been shot’,” one witness told The Daily Telegraph of the moment he arrived on the scene.
The shooting had all the “hallmarks” of a “targeted organised crime murder”, NSW Police Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty told reporters.
“I know this happened in daylight in a suburban area of Sydney, and I think the community should be appalled that this happened in front of a 12-year-old, quite rightly,” Det Supt Doherty, who heads the state’s homicide squad, said.
“We’ve got a 40-year-old man who has been shot down in front of his son, and he is the victim.”
The young boy, Det Supt Doherty said, was “traumatised” by the incident, “but luckily he is uninjured. Physically uninjured”.
Mr Sabbagh had posted a video of his young son at boxing training just hours before he was shot dead outside the same gym.
Authorities are investigating the shooting of Taha Sabbagh outside a Sefton gym as a possible case of mistaken identity. Photo: Jeremy PiperThe Elite Fight Force gym in Sefton where Taha Sabbagh was killed in what police suspect was a targeted organised crime murder. Photo: Jeremy Piper
The “loving” dad’s last social media post at about 8pm on Wednesday night showed the young boy practising punching, blocking and dodging at the martial arts gym, where the family were regular clients.
When the father and his son returned to Elite Fight Force for another session less than 12 hours later, at least two gunmen opened fire.
Mr Sabbagh was “intending to go to the gym”, Det Supt Doherty said, adding: “Associates of the victim have connections to that gym as well, and that’s why circumstances lend themselves to a targeted attack”.
“He (Mr Sabbagh) was not well known to police, he was associated with some people who are well known to police and have strong criminal activity connected to them,” he added.
Read related topics:Sydney