Distressed family and friends of a famous driver flooded the street where he was shot in a gangland ambush at his gym.
Taha Sabbagh, 40, was shot dead around 6:30am on Thursday outside the Elite Fight Force gym on Carlingford Street, in Sefton, western Sydney.
A group of dozens of people, many in safety shirts and work clothes, arrived on the street around 9 a.m., agitated and demanding to know what had happened.
Some cried and clung to each other at the sight of the bullet-riddled black Mercedes SUV Mr. Sabbagh was in when he was shot at least six times.
Others clashed with police until the crowd was dispersed by officers and they left the area.
Distressed family and friends of celebrity driver Taha Sabbagh, 40, flooded the street where he was shot in a gangland ambush at his western Sydney gym
Taha Sabbagh, 40, was shot dead outside the Elite Fight Force gym on Carlingford Street, in western Sydney’s Sefton
Mr Sabbagh was a top driver for various luxury chauffeur services around Sydney, regularly transporting high caliber clients to meetings and parties, and cashing couples to weddings.
NSW Police Chief Inspector Danny Doherty said the shooting was believed to be a ‘targeted attack’ but whether he was ‘the intended target’ would be investigated.
“He was not well known to the police, he had ties to some people who are well known to the police and have strong criminal activities associated with them,” he told reporters.
Friends of the driver of a luxury car are convinced he was shot in a mistaken identity.
Mr Sabbagh was dropping off his 12-year-old son for a personal training session at the gym when he was suddenly ambushed by at least two armed men in a Mazda 3.
A witness heard at least six shots and the sound of a car driving away. The car was later found burned out at nearby Birrong railway station.
His last post on social media was the young boy boxing there the night before.
Paramedics desperately tried to revive Mr. Sabbagh, who was often present at the MMA gym. He could not be saved and died on the spot.
Taha Sabbagh, 40, (pictured left with social media star Hasbulla right), believed to be linked to a known crime family, was shot dead outside the Elite Fight Force gym on Carlingford Street, in Sefton at about 6:30am on Thursday morning
The 40-year-old was shot dead outside the Elite Fight Force gym on Carlingford Street, in Sefton, on Thursday morning.
Mr Sabbagh’s car was seen following the Thursday morning shooting
Police are seen comforting a young boy, believed to be Mr Sabbagh’s 12-year-old son
Police are seen at the scene of the shooting in Sefton in southwest Sydney
First on the scene was Steve who heard six gunshots while he was working in an office across the road.
“I heard the shots and I ran over to him and the young lad, his son, was screaming ‘help my father has been shot’,” he told Daily Mail Australia.
“I looked inside and there was a man standing in front of the car, bleeding and slumped over the console. Someone had clearly shot him, there was blood everywhere.’
Steve said that despite being shot up to six times, Mr. Sabbagh still appeared to be alive.
“Within minutes there was police and ambulance everywhere, it was quite a hectic sight,” he said.
“They were working on him for a while.”
He once rode social media star Hasbulla and recently shared photos of MMA star Khabib Nurmagomedov and Logan Paul.
“He has been with us from the beginning, almost four years now,” says the owner of one of the companies.
“He’s one of the best guys I know, always happy, always smiling.
‘He was our best, always answered the door, brought an umbrella when it rained – an all round nice guy. It’s a tragedy.’
The businessman said that Mr. Sabbagh was so reliable that he was familiar with the company’s best customers and could not be involved in organized crime.
“It’s very shocking, we never expected something like this to happen to someone like him,” he said.
Daily Mail Australia understands that friends fear Mr Sabbagh has been accidentally targeted.
Pictured are members of the Elite Fight Force martial arts school in Sefton, Sydney’s southwest
Mr Sabbagh recently shared a photo of kids with Logan Paul on his Instagram
Mr. Sabbagh is seen with MMA artist Khabib Nurmagomedov
A police source grimly warned of further carnage on the streets of a Sydney suburb following the shooting.
“It will get much worse after this. It always does,” they said.
Mustafa Nashar, a friend of Mr Sabbagh, shared a heartfelt tribute to the 40-year-old: “(He was) a beautiful person whose life was taken wrongly and undeservedly.”
Another loved one said, “Taha was a loving son, brother, father, husband, loved by many. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.”
Muslim preacher, Mohamed Shaar, said that “another soul had been killed right outside our door.”
“Killed in front of his child, what a pity this world is so bad,” he said.
Relatives and friends flocked to the scene of the alleged crime in the hours following the shooting.
A witness, David, said he was in his workshop at the time when he heard about ten gunshots, which he initially thought was just a car backfiring.
“Within minutes there was a load of ambulances and police everywhere and we saw a man on the ground who was not well,” he told Radio 2GB. “It was frightening.”
David said he initially heard about five loud bangs before hearing a car pull away. Then he heard another series of shots.
Taha Sabbagh was shot outside the gym in his car on Thursday morning
Emergency services can be seen outside the gym on Thursday morning
A friend of Mr Sabbagh’s said he was taken ‘wrongly and undeservedly’
The gym announced that it would be closed on Thursday
Daily Mail Australia understands that the gym was not open at the time. In the photo are members of the gym
The gym posted a message on Instagram on Thursday morning that it would be closing.
“Asalamu alaykum (peace be upon you in Arabic),” the message began.
“We are very sorry for the inconvenience. Elite Force Force is closed today and all classes are canceled for that day.
“Be patient with us and stay tuned to our stories for new announcements.”
Daily Mail Australia understands that the gym was not open at the time.
The gym has received high praise from members describing it as ‘world class facilities and trainers’ with classes for all ages.
‘The best MMA gym in Sydney’, one wrote in a review.
An ambulance is seen outside the mixed martial arts gym on Thursday morning
“Has the best bantamweight fighter there too.
“Definitely recommended for anyone looking to get fit or self-defense or even pursuing a career in martial arts.”
Another person said the company was the “most disciplined mixed martial arts gym” in town.
“The owners and trainers treat you like family as soon as you walk in,” they said.
Children trained in the gym on Wednesday night – just hours before the shooting.