The Sydney crime boss who died in a hail of bullets on a CBD street on late on Thursday knew there were contracts out for his death, police say.
Multiple gunmen opened fire on underworld figure Bilal Hamze as he left a restaurant on Thursday night, killing the notorious gangster in what police say is a major escalation of gang violence in the city.
The 34-year-old was peppered with bullets in a “brutal, execution-style murder” as he left a restaurant late on Thursday in Bridge Street, near Circular Quay.
He died shortly after in St Vincent’s Hospital.
Mr Hamze was the cousin of Brothers for Life figurehead and Goulburn Supermax inmate Bassam Hamzy.
Detectives believe the shooting was part of an ongoing conflict between the rival Hamze and Alameddine families and organised crime networks or the result of arrests made last week under Operation Ironside – an international sting on organised crime.
NSW Police Homicide Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty said “once you disrupt organised crime networks, there is always going to be some irritation, and this may have been a result of that”.
Criminal Groups Squad Commander Robert Critchlow confirmed there was a contract out on Mr Hamze’s life.
“He’s been warned that he was at risk … He sought to live his life the way he wanted to, and he made some choices,” Detective Superintendent Critchlow said on Friday.
“That advice was not received in the sense it was given, he sought to live his life the way he wanted to do and he’s made some choices.”
He said police were worried about possible revenge attacks.
“We’ll be opening doors, we’ll be kicking down doors, we’ll be tipping people over,” he said.
“It will not be business as usual for the criminal fraternity in Sydney after today.”
Police continued to examine the area on Friday afternoon. They were also examining a burnt-out black Audi found at Northwood on Sydney’s lower north shore that has been linked to the shooting.
Detectives are investigating how the assailants knew where Mr Hamze was.
Detective Superintendent Doherty said it was lucky no passers-by were injured in the shooting.
“This was a brutal, execution style murder and it was carried out in a busy street in the middle of Sydney CBD,” he said.
“We’re lucky that we haven’t got more casualties. We are lucky that there is no one else injured.
“It is a major escalation … There were still people leaving pubs, restaurants and other places and motels.”
Nearby resident Rachael, who didn’t want to give her last name, said the shooting had left her ‘shaken’.
“I used to live in Los Angeles where gunshots were often heard but it’s very unusual for shootings to happen here in Sydney, especially so close to where I live and work,” she said.
The ongoing feud between Sydney’s Hamze and Alameddine crime families stretches back years.
In 2013, Mr Hamze’s mother, Maha Hamze, was shot in the legs through the door of her western Sydney home but survived.
The shooting was sparked by a debt recovery fee feud between her son and another man.
Her home was shot up again last October and on the same day, Hamze’s cousin Mejid Hamzy was shot dead at his Condell Park home.
Detectives from the NSW Police State Crime Command’s Homicide Squad have established Strike Force Englorie to investigate the death.