Gang Crime Squad detectives have arrested three men and released CCTV of a witness they are hoping to speak to following a pursuit in Moonee Ponds last month.
With the assistance of the Special Operations Group and VIPER Taskforce, warrants were executed at addresses in Carlton, Port Melbourne, Yarraville, Cranbourne and Deer Park both yesterday afternoon and today.
A 34-year-old Port Melbourne man was yesterday arrested in Geelong at approximately 11am with the assistance of the Special Operations Group.
He was charged with a range of firearm offences including prohibited person possess firearm, conduct endanger life, theft of motor vehicle and commit indictable offence whilst on bail.
He appeared at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court today.
A 24-year-old man from Deer Park was arrested this afternoon with the assistance of the Special Operations Group.
He will now be interviewed by police.
The activity follows an incident shortly after 7.20am on Saturday, 24 December, when a silver Volkswagen Passat was being pursued by a stolen white Toyota RAV4 through the Moonee Ponds, Essendon and Coburg areas and witnesses reported hearing gun shots.
The Volkswagen, pursued by the Toyota, is captured on dashcam footage running a red light at the intersection of Buckley Street and Pascoe Vale Road in Essendon, veering onto the wrong side of the road.
It appears an occupant of the Toyota fires several shots in the direction of the Volkswagen, which is later located on 31 December with a shattered rear windscreen which police believe is gunshot damage.
Just before 7.30am, the stolen Toyota is travelling at high speed on the incorrect side of Bell Street in Coburg and disobeys a red traffic signal, crashing head on into another motorist and ricocheting into several other vehicles.
Four men fled from the scene, running south on Bruce Street in Pascoe Vale.
A 23-year-old Cranbourne man was located alone a short time later and was arrested and charged with theft of motor vehicle and possess ammunition.
A man from one of the vehicles struck was taken to hospital to be treated for minor injuries.
Police are keen to speak to anyone who witnessed the incidents on the morning of Saturday, 24 December.
This includes a man with two small dogs who was standing at the traffic lights at the intersection of Buckley Street and Pascoe Vale Road in Essendon when it is believed the shots were fired.
The white Toyota RAV4 was stolen from Thornbury between 19 and 20 November, 2022. If anyone has any information on this vehicle being used in other criminal offending, please speak to police.
Detectives have released footage of this man today and encourage anyone who knows him, or the man himself, to come forward and speak to police.
Anyone who witnessed the incident or has information on the men involved is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report online at www.crimestoppersvic.com.auExternal Link
Quotes attributable to Detective Acting Inspector Ash Ryan, Echo Taskforce:
“These are rare incidents but any indiscriminate use of a firearm and dangerous driving in the presence of innocent civilians going about their morning is concerning.
“We believe this was a targeted attack, but the danger it poses to the community is immense and we are lucky that other people were not seriously injured.
“We are very keen to speak to anyone who witnessed any of the morning’s incidents – particularly the man at the traffic lights with his two dogs, who we believe might have seen the shooting unfold.
“I’d like to stress that there is nothing whatsoever to indicate this man was involved in the incident, he is a potential witness only.
“We will continue to use all available methods at our disposal in an effort to reduce the impact illicit firearms have on the community, remove these weapons from the hands of criminals and place offenders before the courts.
“If there are people out there with information about the incident who are yet to come forward, I’d again appeal to those people to contact police and as always, this can be done anonymously.”