Notorious crime figure Bilal Hamze has been shot dead in the heart of Sydney's CBD overnight in what is believed to be an escalation of a deadly underworld feud.
NSW Police have confirmed the cousin of Brothers 4 Life founder Bassam Hamzy was gunned down in an alleyway off Bridge St about 10.25pm on Thursday.
Emergency services arrived at the scene near Circular Quay and rushed Hamze to St Vincent's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Police believe the gunman escaped in an Audi and the killer remains on the run. A vehicle was later found burnt out at Northwood on Sydney's north shore.
A strike force has been established and detectives remained at the closed-off section of Bridge St between George and Pitt streets on Friday morning canvassing the scene.
Hamze was fatally wounded while walking near popular Sydney restaurant Mr Wong.
NSW Police said on Friday morning that Hamze, 34, was reportedly shot by an unknown person in a black car.
"A crime scene was established and forensically examined by specialist police," police said in a statement.
"A short time later, police located a burnt-out vehicle at Fleming Street, Northwood, and a second crime scene was established.
"Detectives from the State Crime Command's Homicide Squad have established Strike Force Englorie to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident.
"Strike force detectives will be assisted by the Criminal Groups Squad, Raptor Squad and officers from across the Central Metropolitan Region.
"Inquiries are continuing."
The hit is the latest in a string of shootings targeting members of the rival Hamzy and Alameddine clans of Sydney's southwest.
On October 19 last year, Bassam Hamzy's brother and Hamze's cousin Mejid Hamzy was shot dead outside his home in Condell Park.
That same morning Hamze's mother Baha's home was also sprayed with bullets.
A member of rival family Rafat Alameddine's home was also shot up hours before Mejid Hamzy's death. There is no suggestion Rafat Alameddine was involved in the death of Hamzy.
The violence led police to place serious crime prevention orders on 22 associates of the Hamzy and Alameddine families, which restricted their movements and freedoms.
A Supreme Court challenge of the orders by Ghassan Amoun, another of the Hamzy brothers, heard police believe the brazen shootings stemmed from a dispute over the "distribution of drugs" and "retribution for killings and violence".
In February this year Maha Hamze's Auburn home was again shot at, with a stray bullet going through a window of nearby Auburn Hospital and causing an injury to a nurse's leg.
Bassam Hamzy has been locked up in prison since 1998 when he was arrested for the shooting murder of teenager Kris Toumazis outside a nightclub in Kings Cross.
While behind bars he started the notorious Brothers 4 Life gang in 2007 and has also been convicted of conspiring to supply drugs during his time in prison.
This year Hamzy was charged with perverting the course of justice in the investigation into the execution-style murder of 15-year-old Brayden Dillon in 2017.
Since 2013 he has been held at Goulburn Supermax.