A famous driver who was shot in a gangland ambush posted a video of his son at a boxing workout the night before he was shot dead outside the gym.
Taha Sabbagh, 40, was shot dead at about 6.30am on Thursday outside the Elite Fight Force gym on Carlingford Street, in Sefton, western Sydney.
The proud dad’s latest social media post, at about 8pm on Wednesday, showed his 12-year-old boy practicing punching, blocking and dodging with a trainer.
Less than 12 hours later, the father and his son were returning to the gym to drop him off for another session, when at least two gunmen opened fire.
Taha Sabbagh, 40, with his children next to the black Mercedes was shot dead while dropping off his eldest son at a gym session
A witness heard at least six shots and the sound of a car driving away. The Mazda 3 was later found burnt out at nearby Birrong railway station.
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.
First on the scene was a man named Steve, who heard six gunshots while 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.”
Mr Sabbagh was shot dead outside the Elite Fight Force gym on Carlingford Street, in Sefton, western Sydney
Mr Sabbagh was a top driver for various luxury chauffeur services around Sydney, regularly transporting high caliber clients to meetings and parties (including social media star Hasbulla)
Mr Sabbagh was a top driver for several luxury chauffeur services in Sydney, regularly transporting high profile 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 activity associated with them,” he told reporters.
Friends of the driver of a luxury car are convinced he was shot in a mistaken identity.
He once rode social media star Hasbulla and shared photos of MMA stars Khabib Nurmagomedov and Islam Makhachev, and YouTuber 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.
Mr Sabbagh’s car after the Thursday morning shooting was a tarpaulin covering his body nearby
Police comfort a young boy, believed to be Mr Sabbagh’s 12-year-old son
The Mazda 3 used in the shooting was later found burnt out at nearby Birrong railway station
The 40-year-old was shot dead outside the Elite Fight Force gym on Carlingford Street, in Sefton, on Thursday morning.
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.
A group of dozens of people, many in safety shirts and work clothes, arrived on the streets 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.
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 added, “Taha was a loving son, brother, father, husband, he was loved by many. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.”
Mr Sabbagh recently shared a photo of kids with Logan Paul on his Instagram
Mr. Sabbagh with MMA artist Islam Makhachev, a close family friend who helped train his sons
Distressed family and friends flooded the street where he was shot in a gangland ambush at his western Sydney gym
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.
A witness, David, said he was in his workshop when he heard the gunshots, which he initially thought was just a backfiring car.
“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 2GB radio. “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.
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.”
Taha Sabbagh was shot outside the gym in his car on Thursday morning
Emergency services can be seen outside the gym on Thursday morning
Daily Mail Australia understands that the gym was not open at the time. In the photo are members of the gym
The gym was not open at the time, except for private appointments such as those arranged by Mr. Sabbagh for his son.
The gym received high praise from members describing it as “world-class facilities and trainers” and classes for all ages.
‘The best MMA gym in Sydney’, one wrote in a review.
“Has the best bantamweight fighter there too.
“Definitely recommended for anyone looking to get fit or self-defense or even pursue 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.