Four men remain on the run after they killed a man and injured another in a targeted daylight shooting at a busy Melbourne shopping centre.
The balaclava-clad men surrounded their victim’s white Mercedes before firing multiple shots into the passenger side and rear windows as shocked shoppers watched on, just before 3pm on Saturday at Cragieburn Shopping Centre.
A 27-year-old Craigieburn man in the car died at the scene.
The other man, a 28-year-old from Hadfield, was taken to hospital in a serious condition where he remains in a stable condition.
Crime command commander Paul O’Halloran said the incident appeared targeted and linked to organised crime.
“This is a particularly serious and concerning incident, which would have been incredibly frightening for the people who were in the car park at the time,” he told reporters on Sunday.
“It’s a terrible incident and we are thankful that no one else was injured.”
Two abandoned burnt out cars found in nearby suburbs are believed to be linked to the shooting.
Investigators believe one of the gunmen may have burnt themselves while setting the cars alight.
Detectives are also investigating whether a shooting at a Keilor house in September is linked to the shooting victim.
Mr O’Halloran said Saturday’s incident was the most recent in a spate of targeted shootings between criminals, including the similar daylight execution of underworld figure Gavin Preston in Keilor.
He stopped short of linking the shootings but said investigators would probe all avenues, including whether it was part of ongoing tensions between organised crime groups over illegal tobacco trade or drug importations.
“There is a number of disputes that are occurring within organised crime groups,” he said.
“Some of them relate to illicit tobacco, some of them relate to drug importation and some can be other financial or personal disputes – so we are working to carefully understand the motivation behind the attacks.”
Mr O’Halloran said the man’s next of kin was yet to be notified of his death.
State Anti-Gangs Superintendent Jason Kelly said it was unclear if the Craigieburn shooting was linked to the tobacco war.
He said a new task force was formed with state and federal agencies to target the growing tensions between Middle Eastern organised crime figures.
Luna Taskforce representatives on Sunday arrested 30 people in relation to arsons and extortions, including tobacconists, in the northern suburbs.
Police are expected to have a strong presence at Cragieburn Shopping Centre on Sunday.
Investigators have called on anyone with information about the shooting or CCTV footage of the incident to contact police.
Premier Jacinta Allen described the “very public” incident as “very distressing” but said Victoria Police had the tools and resources to investigate.