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NSW: Heat and booze fuel wild brawl

By Vincent Morello
06 Jan 2009 3:06 PM

SYDNEY, Jan 6 AAP - Police will maintain a heavy presence on a notorious public housing estate in Sydney's south-west after a family feud involving 100 people left seven in hospital.

Two men were shot and four others as young as 16 were stabbed in the late night frenzy, which police say was fuelled by alcohol and summer heat.

The public housing area at Rosemeadow went into lockdown just after midnight (AEDT) on Tuesday after the mass brawl broke out among about 100 people gathered in Macbeth Way.

Knives, baseball bats, axes and at least one firearm was used in the ugly confrontation between warring families in a small section of the estate in Sydney's south-west.

The area known by police as the "3Ms" contains Macbeth, Malcolm and Macduff Way and has been the scene of violent crime and unrest for many years.

In Tuesday's incident, police arrived to find two 16-year-old boys and two men in their 20s with stab wounds.

A short time later, two men aged 20 and 29 were found in a a nearby car - one shot in the back, the other in the buttocks.

Another man, 52, suffered head injuries and all seven were taken to hospital in a stable condition.

One of the teens was arrested in hospital and an uninjured man in his 20s was arrested at the scene.

Campbelltown police commander Stuart Smith said investigators were working to determine what started the brawl, but believe it was a family feud turned nasty.

"It is heat and alcohol with an ongoing dispute that caused this," Supt Smith told reporters in Campbelltown.

The mercury climbed to 38 degrees celsius in Sydney's west on Monday and even higher temperatures were felt on Tuesday.

Police would increase patrols in the neighbourhood to prevent any revenge attacks, Supt Smith said.

"We'll be putting significant numbers on the ground to ensure that that doesn't occur," he said.

"The policing of public housing areas in Campbelltown, certainly in the last 12 months, has been significant."

The Rosemeadow precinct and surrounding streets have been home to drug dealing, brutal assaults, carjackings and attacks on police officers and firefighters.

"Certainly over the last year we've put significant time into targeting and removing a number of drug dealers who are operating in the area," Supt Smith said.

Police launched Operation Tinnaroo last March following five rock-throwing incidents in four weeks early in 2008.

One of attacks involved a brawl of 30 people who turned on police, hurling rocks and other items at officers.

Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell said repeat offenders in public housing estates should be evicted.

"It's simply unacceptable to have families behaving like this, affecting entire communities and doing so in housing provided by state government," Mr O'Farrell told reporters in Sydney.

Housing Minister David Borger said any public housing occupants found to be breaching tenancy laws would be evicted.