Two men fatally shot within days of each other were both members of the same MMA fighting gym, it can be revealed.
The close-knit gym community in western Sydney has been left reeling over the back-to-back tragedies – which occurred under very different circumstances.
Taha Sabbagh, 40, was executed in a ‘targeted attack’ after pulling up to Elite Fight Force gym, in Sefton, in his black Mercedes SUV on Thursday to take his 12-year-old son to a 6.30am boxing lesson.
Three days later, Hillal Barbour, 29, was shot dead by cops responding to a domestic violence call-out at a house in Yagoona, in Sydney’s south-west.
While investigators are treating the two shootings as separate incidents, Daily Mail Australia can exclusively reveal – in an extraordinary co-incidence – that members from both families use the gym and are friends with its owners, Hany Sbat and Adam Omar.
Hillal Barbour (pictured right, with his brother Mounir, left) was fatally shot by police on Sunday
Care hire businessman Taha Sabbagh, 40, (pictured with with social media celebrity Hasbulla Magomedov) was executed outside Elite Fight Force, in Sefton, on Thursday
On Sunday, relatives rang the police because Barbour was threatening them with a shovel.
When officers arrived, they were confronted at the door by the 29-year-old wielding two knives.
The officers backed away from the house, but Barbour pursued – managing to disable one of the cop’s tasers with a knife before the other officer fatally shot him in the chest.
While Mr Sabbagh and his son were regulars at the gym, several of Barbour’s relatives – including his two brothers Mounir and Mohamad – also have links to the owners, with the former once describing the gym as his ‘2nd home’.
Photos posted on social media show Mounir training at the centre and posing alongside Mr Sbat, Mr Omar, and other prominent affiliates, including professional boxer Ali El-rich.
There is no suggestion Mr Sbat, Mr Omar, Mounir, Mohamad or Ali El-rich are involved in any criminal activity.
On Sunday, Mr Omar – also known as Boxa Yass – and Mr El-Rich both shared a tribute to Barbour which has been circulating on Instagram, calling for fellow Muslims to keep him and his family in their prayers.
Barbour (right) was shot dead by officers responding to a domestic violence incident
Police flocked to William Street in Yagoona, south-west Sydney, on Sunday after the fatal shooting
Meanwhile, Mounir fire up his account to issue a scathing post slamming rumours that have been doing the rounds in the wake of his brother’s death.
‘Please everyone keep him [my brother] in your dua [prayers] and to not believe the words of the liars that are spitting false stories,’ Mounir wrote.
‘I love you my brother.’
NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith said Barbour lunged at the officers with the knives shortly after they arrived at the home.
He said the junior officer deployed a taser, which had an impact on Barbour, however, he was still able to attack her.
She lost her footing and fell backwards, but Barbour continued the attack. He then turned his attention to the male officer, who fired three rounds into his chest.
The two officers – who were uninjured apart from a small knife wound on the male cop’s neck – then performed CPR until paramedics arrived.
Barbour was rushed to Liverpool Hospital in a critical condition but later died.
It is understood he had a history of mental health problems.
Mounir Barbour is friends with Elite Fight Force owners Hany Sbat (pictured together) and Adam Omar. There is no suggestion Mr Sbat and Mr Omar are involved in any criminal activity
Mounir and several of his relatives are also friends with Adam Omar – aka Boxa Yass. There is no suggestion Mr Sbat and Mr Omar are involved in any criminal activity.
Just days earlier, 3km away, Mr Sabbagh was found slumped over the console of his black Mercedes SUV after being shot at least six times in front of his 12-year-old son.
Police believe two offenders were lying in wait to ambush the dad, with detectives investigating whether he was the ‘intended target’ of the brutal attack.
A witness heard Mr Sabbagh’s son screaming: ‘Help my dad’s been shot!’ before a car screeched away. A white Mazda 3 was later found burnt out at Birrong train station, nearby.
Paramedics desperately tried to revive Mr Sabbagh, but he was unable to be saved and died at the scene.
Underworld sources have claimed Mr Sabbagh’s death was either a case of mistaken identity or possibly retribution for the kidnapping and torture of a jeweller last October.
The jeweller was reportedly held for 24 hours and tortured until a random of $10million was paid.
Police tape surrounded the boxing centre on Thursday after the father was gunned down in the car park
The Mazda 3 used in the shooting was later found burnt out at the nearby Birrong Train Station
Daily Mail Australia does not suggest Mr Sabbagh was behind the kidnapping, but it is understood that his killing could have been a ‘warning sign’ to criminal gang members, some of whom train the Elite Fight Force gym.
‘Some of the crew at that gym were behind the kidnapping… this is a retaliation,’ an underworld source told the Daily Telegraph.
‘They are some of the heaviest of heavy crooks at that gym… it will be on now, these boys will retaliate too.’
It is not suggested that the jeweller, who is currently abroad, is involved in criminal activity or the killing of Mr Sabbagh.
Both shootings remain under investigation.
A critical incident team comprised of officers from the State Crime Command’s Homicide Squad is probing the circumstances surrounding the Yagoona incident.
Bodycam, CCTV footage and the discharging of a firearm will be examined and the investigation will be subject to independent review.
Mourners paid their respects to Mr Sabbagh at a service at Lakemba Mosque (pictured), in south-west Sydney, at 1pm on Saturday