Police Minister visits Merrylands in wake of drive-by shootings

Parramatta Advertiser
by Di Bartok

IN the wake of the latest drive-by shootings in the area, Police Minister Mike Gallacher visited Merrylands to speak to business owners and residents today.
Along with Granville state Liberal MP Tony Issa, Mr Gallacher asked business owners how the shootings, and the perception that Merrylands was unsafe, was affecting their trade.
The Parramatta Advertiser joined the walk down Merrylands Rd and spoke with Mr Gallacher on the fight against outlaw motorcycle gang-led crime.
Mr Gallacher said the government needed to fight the upsurge in gun crime ``across different departments’‘.
He said that it was no longer a matter for the police only in cracking OMCG crime and the tighter controls over tattoo parlours was evidence of that.
``We have fair trading playing its role (in making sure tattoo parlour licensees meet requirements), liquour and gaming in not granting licenses to known members of these gangs and these departments are working with police,’’ Mr Gallacher said. ``Until now, these gangs were used to dealing just with the police.’‘
Mr Gallacher has introduced tough new laws to ban known bikie gang members from owning or operating tattoo parlours and give police the power to raid the shops at will.
One person who is glad to hear that is hairdresser Susan Wahab, whose salon is next door to the tattoo parlour shot at last Tuesday.
``Customers are feeling unsafe and it is affecting my business,’’ Ms Wahab told the minister.
Real estate agent Elie Kaltoum said he feared Merrylands was becoming like New York where innocent people could be caught in the crossfire.
Yong Lee, owner of Rainbow Cafe, said people were moving out of the area because of the drive-by shootings. He also told the minister that businesses wanted more police on the beat, as it had been about five years ago.
``Having police on bikes is not the same - they are gone before you can talk to them if you have concerns,’’ Mr Lee said.
Joanne Gerges from La Gillette Patisserrie, who also lives in Merrylands, said that as a mother of three young children, she was concerned over living near some of the recent shootings.
Long-time Merrylands resident Raymond Khawly seemed nonchalant about the shootings so close to his doorstep.
``As long as the bullet goes straight, I’m not really worried,’’ he said.
He said he was happy with the government’s handling of the crime.
Mr Gallacher told the Advertiser that the Crime Commission and police had made inroads into the organised gun crime spree, with more than 300 arrests already made.
He said the shootings were mostly executed by young “apprentices’’ to the outlaw motorcycle gangs who had to prove they were worthy of becoming members.
``These young recruits are called noms and the shootings are part of their apprenticeship,’’ Mr Gallacher said.



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