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January 15, 2012
"To die like this over nothing is just stupid" ... the funeral for Lone Wolf bikie Neal Todorovski at Cabramatta yesterday. Photo: Domino Postiglione
A WAILING mother speaks to her dead son. ''Stand up and say hello to your guests,'' she urges him, apparently unwilling to accept he is dead. But he is the man in the coffin - the $42,000 gold-plated coffin, paid for in cash by his bikie mates.
This was the funeral yesterday for the Lone Wolf member Neal Todorovski, who was shot in the head on January 4 during a shoot-out in Sans Souci, southern Sydney, the first death from a succession of gun attacks across Sydney.
Mr Todorovski, 37, had been armed with a gun that day. And the congregation at St Nikola Macedonian Orthodox Church in Cabramatta, south-western Sydney, yesterday included many men associated with outlaw bike gangs. But police fear innocent bystanders will be the next victims of the spike in shootings.
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They worry more deaths will follow as disputes spiral into tit-for-tat shootings, some related, some not.
A senior Lone Wolf told The Sun-Herald the Todorovski shooting was not a turf war but over ''something petty and silly''. He said: ''I'm not sure what's wrong with the world. To die like this over nothing is just stupid.''
Many bikies at the Todorovski service were visibly distraught, weeping, hugging each other. They included Finks and Comanchero members.
A Lone Wolf said an arrest in Perth over the shooting followed the police interception of a telephone conversation. Detective Wayne Hayes, acting commander of the gang squad, said the Lone Wolf gang had eight chapters in NSW with about 96 members.
The Todorovski killing ''had nothing indicating expansion'' into new territory, he said.
Strike Force Lobbe - one of four strike forces investigating the Sydney shootings - identified a Maroubra man, 25-year-old Tarek Abdallah, as the suspect in the Todorovski shooting. Mr Abdallah faced a Perth court on Friday and is expected to be extradited to NSW this week.
Mr Todorovski had been armed with a pistol when he left his flat with two friends, Matthew Edward Lewis, 23, and John Haper Leger, 32, to meet Mr Abdallah in front of his four-wheel-drive. In court police alleged a scuffle broke out and Mr Abdallah managed to pull a handgun from his car and shoot Mr Todorovski in the head. They allege Mr Lewis and Mr Leger refused to co-operate and arrested the pair for concealing an indictable offence and possessing a prohibited weapon.
But many of the shootings are not related to the Lone Wolf gang, nor even to bikies. And, in most cases, police have met a wall of silence.
''You can't tell me a parent or brother, sister doesn't know or have a suspicion,'' said Assistant Commissioner Frank Mennilli, who heads Operation Spartan, set up on Thursday as the overarching investigation into the shootings.
''They must know,'' he said. ''The ones I feel for is the collateral damage - small children that could be in the house or the innocent bystanders.
''There are a number of groups of people; some issues are domestic-related, some is drug-related, turf wars, or some individuals have simply had a disagreement and decided to have a shoot-out.''
Some might have been high on drugs, he said.
An independent study suggested there could be as many as 500,000 illegal guns nationwide. There were six drive-by shootings in four days in Sydney last week, although nobody was injured. There have been about 50 since the middle of last year. An independent study has suggested there could be as many as 500,000 illegal guns nationwide.
''I can't promise you there will not be any further shootings,'' Mr Mennilli said, ''but I can promise that the resources of the NSW Police Force will target these people.''
A source who wished to remain anonymous told The Sun-Herald Lone Wolf gang members paid for Mr Todorovski's golden coffin with $42,000 in cash. ''It's an incredibly impressive piece,'' he said.