Detectives are investigating whether the shooting of a man in a quiet Salt Ash street on the weekend was the result of a drug deal gone wrong.
It is believed that 45-year-old Tanilba Bay resident David King was the victim of a targeted attack when he was shot in the head and left laying beside a car that had crashed into the front yard of a home in Hideaway Drive about 1.45pm on Sunday.
Mr King was on bail for drug charges at the time of his death.
Port Stephens-Hunter Police District commander Superintendent Chad Gillies said detectives were following several "strong lines of inquiry" into the apparent murder.
"The early indications are the [shooter] was in the car with Mr King. We can't confirm definitively how many people were in the car at the time of the collision. That's one of our strongest lines yet in terms of trying to identify those responsible," he said.
The gunman remained at large and the weapon used to kill Mr King was still unaccounted for on Tuesday.
Superintendent Chad Gillies identifying Mr King on Monday, August 30:
Investigators believe the gunman was a passenger in a Ford Raptor ute being driven by Mr King, which crashed into a tree of a residence in Hideaway Drive, close to Salt Ash Public School.
Police and NSW Ambulance paramedics found Mr King's lifeless body next to the driver's side of the Ford.
Superintendent Gillies said on Monday that early investigations indicated a man with a gun was seen leaving the ute after the crash and was collected by a white Hyundai Santa Fe.
A vehicle matching that description was found burnt-out in an empty lot along Masonite Road at Heatherbrae - about 20km from the scene of the shooting - on Sunday afternoon.
Superintendent Gillies said police were continuing to investigate whether the burnt-out Santa Fe was connected to the Salt Ash crime scene.
- EARLIER STORY: Man shot in Salt Ash identified by police
Investigators conducted line searches at the Salt Ash and Heatherbrae crime scenes on Monday to "locate further exhibits".
"We've also conducted extensive CCTV canvasses around both locations," Superintendent Gillies said.
A post-mortem on Mr King's body is expected to be conducted this week.
Mr King was previously known to police and was before the courts on drug-related charges when he was killed.
He had been granted bail on July 4.
According to court records, Mr King had pleaded guilty to one count of supplying a prohibited drug greater than a small quantity but smaller than an indictable quantity, as well as two counts of possessing a prohibited drug.
He had pleaded not guilty to one charge of dealing with the proceeds of crime, valued less than $10,000, and was due to face Raymond Terrace Local Court again on November 5.
Court records show he was previously handed a jail term of three years, with a two-year non parole period, from July 2018 for four drug supply charges.
State Crime Command Homicide Squad investigators and Port Stephens-Hunter Police District detectives have formed Strike Force Breve to investigate the shooting.
"Investigators are working around the clock to try to identify those responsible for the incident," Superintendent Gillies said.
Police are appealing appealing for anyone who may have seen a white Ford Ranger utility or a white Hyundai Santa Fe in the Salt Ash, Raymond Terrace and Heatherbrae areas between 8am and 3pm on Sunday or who may have dashcam footage to contact Raymond Terrace Police Station on (02) 4983 7599 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
"We've been inundated so far with information from members of the public, which I would encourage people to continue to do," Superintendent Gillies said.
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