Premier plays down gang war fears after cafe execution

Callum Godde |

Premier Daniel Andrews has attempted to quell fears of an escalating Melbourne gang war after an underworld figure was gunned down in an execution-style shooting at a cafe.

Gangland identity Gavin “Capable” Preston, 50, was killed and another man he was dining with was critically injured after shots were fired outside Sweet Lulus cafe in Keilor Village on Saturday morning.

Security camera footage shows the moment Preston and the other man, aged in his 20s, were peppered with bullets.

In the vision, a hooded gunman dressed in black runs from the passenger side door of a black SUV and fires several shots from a handgun at Preston, who falls to the ground as smoke lingers in the air.

The other victim appears to see the gunman just before he fires his first shot and begins to run away as other diners also flee and hit the deck.

The shooter then runs back to the getaway car before it speeds away, with the attack over in less than 20 seconds.

No arrests have been been made amid a major police manhunt.

Mr Andrews said diners caught up in the daylight shooting would have been traumatised but expressed confidence the offenders would be brought to justice.

“No one should underestimate the resolve of Victoria Police to fight crime and to keep us safe and to deal with incidents like this,” the premier told reporters on Sunday.

Asked if Victorians should be concerned about a possible gang war escalation, Mr Andrews said: “I have no advice to suggest that that’s likely.”

Mr Andrews backed police boss Shane Patton’s assessment that Melbourne is a safe place, pointing to more than 250,000 people packing the Melbourne Cricket Ground in recent days for three AFL finals.

Preston was released from Barwon Prison in February after serving 11 years for defensive homicide over the fatal 2012 shooting of 41-year-old Adam Khoury, a Melbourne ice dealer.

He suffered nine stab wounds, several cuts to his face and head and a 15cm laceration down his right jawline during an attack in the maximum security prison’s exercise yard in 2014.

Paramedics on Saturday worked to save Preston but he died at the scene, while the younger man was taken to hospital in a critical condition and underwent emergency surgery for gunshot wounds to his stomach.

The black SUV was found dumped in nearby Blair Court, along with another car close by that police believe may be linked to the shooting.

Preston’s wife and son were pinned down by police as they tried to enter the crime scene to view his body.

Police are urging anyone who witnessed the shooting or with dashcam vision to contact Crime Stoppers.