THE fatal shooting of a Sydney man has divided the city's Assyrian population, who fear the killer may be being protected by elements within the Assyrian community itself.
Ashur Audisho, 21, was gunned down last Sunday after arguing with three men in the western suburb of Fairfield. His funeral was held yesterday at the Saint Zaia Cathedral, in Sydney's West Hoxton Park.
As his father Arem, a respected poet in Sydney's Assyrian community, offered a poem farewelling his son to the 1000 mourners, NSW detectives visited shops and community centres in Fairfield, asking for security camera footage from Sunday.
Police believe an Assyrian crime syndicate, known as the Dlasthr gang and allegedly led by fugitive Ramon Youmaran, 27, may be linked to the killing.
The Dlasthr gang, whose members wear a distinctive clenched fist tattoo on their backs, has also been linked to a shooting murder at the Babylon Cafe in Fairfield in October last year and a 2002 murder outside a Sefton hotel.
Mr Youmaran himself narrowly escaped a police operation just seven weeks ago.
Police saw Mr Youmaran in the passenger seat of a green Mercedes Benz and pursued the car along two of Sydney's major motorways, until fears for public safety forced them to abandon the chase. "People are afraid to tell where he is because they might end up dead, just like Ashur," said one woman, who asked not to be named.
Members of Ashur's family insist he was not involved in any gang activity. "I hope it won't be that he was killed by an Assyrian gang," Ashur's cousin Sharlin Audisho said.
"We Assyrians ran from Iraq to have a good life in Australia and now they turn on each other." Police said the Iraqi-born man, whose family fled the country in 1991, had no criminal record and was not carrying a weapon.
"Unfortunately, it was a really beautiful funeral," one of Ashur's cousins, Sharlin Audisho, said.
"All the friends stood by and everyone put a rose on his coffin. As good as it was, it was a really sad occasion. Unfortunately, we lost him, because he was such a good person."
Ashur, from Greenfield Park, moved to Sydney in 1999 when he was pursuing a dream of becoming a disc jockey.
He joined the Holy Apostolic Catholic Church of the East at Saint Zaia a few months ago and was a popular member of its youth group.
His father, Arem, said at his funeral that the world had been thrown into darkness after his son was killed.
Mr Audisho read a poem entitled Life Without You to a packed congregation at the Saint Zaia Cathedral.
Mourners at the funeral crowded into doorways or listened from outside as Mr Audisho said that there was no sun or moon in the family's lives without Ashur.
"Wherever we go, we call your memories, we call Ashur, yet we have no reply," an English translation of the poem read.
"Every door we open, we find your beautiful face, we come to hug you, yet you disappear."
Dozens of Ashur's friends, many wearing his name on a black armband and carrying a single red rose, surrounded his coffin as it was led from the cathedral after the service.
Other family and friends followed the coffin, openly weeping, as it was driven to Forest Lawn Cemetery in nearby Leppington for burial.