A tattoo parlour shooting that left a customer fighting for his life on the day of Mick Hawi’s funeral could be linked to the former Comanchero boss’ murder, police say.
As Hawi’s family and friends gathered for traditional prayers at a Sydney mosque at 1.20pm today, two masked men burst into Nitro Ink Tattoo Studio in south-east Melbourne and gunned down a customer in a hail of bullets.
The men escaped in a silver saloon car before setting it on fire and are still on the run, police believe.
The parlour is said to be connected to the national president of the Comanchero bikie gang, Mick Murray, who is currently behind bars after a top secret investigation by Victoria Police’s anti-bikie Echo taskforce earlier this year.
The victim, 35, is in intensive care at The Alfred Hospital with serious wounds to his upper body after the attack in Hampton Park. The gunmen’s bullets went through to next-door buildings but non-one else was hurt.
Asked in a press conference if the shooting was linked to Mick Hawi’s murder, Inspector Mick Daly said detectives for the anti-bikie Echo taskforce were probing the possibility.
The parlour is part of the Nitro group of businesses – which includes gyms, security services and tattoo outlets. These have in the past been linked to Murray, reported the Herald Sun.
There were six customers in the parlour when the men stormed in at 1pm. One witness said there were so many gunshots he ‘couldn’t count’ them.
When questioned at the scene, one man who appeared to work at the parlour told a Herald Sun reporter to ‘f*** off’. Daily Mail Australia’s calls to the parlour went unanswered on Thursday evening.
Former Comanchero chief Mahmoud ‘Mick’ Hawi was shot dead outside the Fitness First gym in Rockdale, in Sydney’s south last Thursday afternoon.
His body of was taken out of a coffin and placed into a grave, as hundreds of mourners watched on in Sydney’s south today.
Associates, family, friends and lawyers of the one-time crime kingpin gathered to pay their respects to the Lebanese migrant and father-of-two, 37, at an Arncliffe mosque.
After 1pm prayers at the Al Zahra mosque in Arncliffe, a convoy of luxury cars followed the hearse carrying Hawi’s bullet-riddled body to Rookwood Cemetery.
There were no motorbikes in sight, nor bikie colours, as mourners were told by the Hawi family they were a ‘no-go’.
More than a dozen uniformed police officers watched as the family, including wife Carolina arrived at the grave site in a parade of white Rolls Royces, a Bentley and Porsche.
Mosque officials said Hawi’s bullet-riddled body was washed at the service and he was dressed per Islamic rites. Traditional blessings were also performed.
At the graveside, prayers were sung and Hawi’s body was removed from its casket, as per Islamic tradition.
His body was then lowered into the cement-lined grave and a truck tipped earth on top of him.
Close male relatives and friends finished the burial together with shovels and laid enormous bouquets of flowers for Hawi.
Islamic Friendship Association president Keysar Trad said followers of the belief ‘don’t bury with the coffin. We take the cadaver out of the coffins.’
Concrete slabs are often laid at the bottom of graves to meet health requirements, Mr Trad said.
Family and friends, including Hawi’s father, then formed a line and shook hands with almost every attendee. Others stayed to pay their respects.
Mourners were asked by Hawi’s immediate family not to wear bikie colours nor arrive on motorcycles out of ‘respect’.
Many attendees wore shirts or hoodies with photographs of Mahmoud printed on the back.
Most attendees, particularly the men, were photographed by undercover police officers as they arrived at the mosque.
A convoy of luxury cars arrived at Hawi’s funeral just before midday, believed to be transporting his wife Carolina and their two sons, as well as immediate family.
Following the service, mourners poured out of the mosque, all dressed in black
As hundreds of mourners descended on the place of worship, a large police van sat outside the entrance, and police cars sat on most corners of the block, surrounding the mosque.
Officers said they were there to ensure the funeral did not disrupt traffic. A large group of men in black T-shirts arrived in three white limousines.
A man named Tony carried a framed photograph of the former Comanchero leader down the street as the others fell in line behind him.
The Lebanese migrant was then buried in the Muslim section of the city’s Rookwood necropolis.
Hawi’s body was released to the family by investigators on Wednesday, after an autopsy.
He rose to infamy in 2009 for his involvement in a brutal brawl at Sydney Airport which resulted in the death of a Hells Angels associate.
His wife, Carolina Gonzalez, successfully made an urgent application to the New South Wales Supreme Court to obtain a sperm sample.
Her lawyer submitted she still ‘desires’ to have more children with her late husband.
An affidavit filed by her lawyer said they were advised by the Coroner that Hawi was ‘situated in a locked zipped bag and that bag cannot be unzipped without the presence of detectives.’
Police did not object to a urologist performing the procedure to obtain Hawi’s sperm.
Hawi’s killers, who remain unidentified, are still on the run despite warnings from police they will not remain anonymous for long. The investigation into his murder continues.