A manhunt for the gunman wanted over the fatal shooting of convicted killer Walid “Wally” Ahmad has shifted to Victoria following the discovery of an abandoned crashed car that may have been used in the escape.
Ahmad, 41, was gunned down on Friday at Bankstown Central shopping centre by a masked assassin who fled in a white Mercedes later discovered burnt out in nearby Greenacre. A 60-year-old man and a 31-year-old woman, believed to be associates of Ahmad, were also wounded and taken to hospital.
On Saturday, the NSW Police Force confirmed it had been contacted by its counterparts in Victoria following a single-vehicle crash on the Hume Highway at Benalla. A spokesman said: “Investigators are exploring whether the vehicle is linked to the recent shooting in Bankstown.”
A Victoria Police spokesman, meanwhile, told Fairfax Media that by the time police arrived, the occupants had fled the scene. Both forces were tight lipped about the car’s registration, stating only that inquiries were continuing “to determine the driver of the vehicle”.
Sydney’s latest crime gang execution is likely linked to the slaying of Safwan Charbaji, 32, who was shot in the chest outside Mr Ahmad’s A Team Smash Repairs shop, at nearby Condell Park, on April 9. A second man, Abdullah El Masri, 35, remains in a coma after he was caught in the crossfire and shot in the face. It is understood the fatal shooting followed a heated row between two groups in the street about a cash debt.
Until his own execution on Friday, Ahmad had been wanted for questioning over that killing. But as a prominent figure in Sydney’s underworld, he had been on the police radar for many years.
Fairfax Media understands Ahmad had stood over several smash repair firms around Bankstown and demanded that a certain percentage of crash scene vehicles be funnelled to his Condell Park business for repairs. And those competitors knew Ahmad was not a man to mess with. In 2005, he was jailed over the fatal shooting of Mayez Dany three years earlier.
The former bouncer was working the door at a nightclub belonging to Hassan “Sam” Ibrahim when he refused entry to Mr Dany’s nephew and during the same exchange, broke his jaw. When a truce later broke down, Ahmad shot Mr Dany five times at a Greenacre auto wreckers where they had previously agreed to meet. He was subsequently sentenced to a minimum of seven years jail for manslaughter and assault-related offences.
Business was down at Bankstown shops on Saturday. The rooftop car park where Ahmad was gunned down was more than half-empty. At the crime scene, two blue rubber gloves used by either police or the ambulance crew in trying to revive him now lay on the ground. Shoppers walk past without seeing them.
On a fire escape nearby someone had placed three short-stemmed red roses.
“It’s very quiet,” said a worker at one of the indoor coffee shops. “Normally it is very, very busy but today it’s been very quiet, especially in the morning.”
This was confirmed by a long-term shopkeeper at the centre who did not want to be named. “Business is down by about 70 per cent,” she said. “Normally the car park is chock-a-block and people are fighting for spaces. Today is very quiet.”
The shopkeeper saw Ahmad standing in the rooftop car park just before he was shot. There was a sound of gunshots which she said were “not very loud”.
“Then I saw a security guard run over and try to revive him,” the shopkeeper said. “A guy was on his phone ringing another friend saying, ‘Wally’s been shot’.
“He kept saying ‘He’s been shot. He’s been shot.’ Then the police arrived and tried to revive him.”
Although she was close to the killing the shopkeeper said she was not scared. “I’ve been here eight years and for the reputation it has Bankstown is not as bad as people make it. It’s a community.”