A gunman shot Christopher Horrox, 30, four times through the head at 11pm on Monday, and left his companion, Jimmy Carr, 45, seriously wounded as they worked at an illegal fly-poster site.
Greater Manchester police said the city had no recent history of violent crime connected to the lucrative fees charged for fly-posting, nor any evidence in the aftermath of the shootings of an attempt by operators outside Manchester to usurp sites and deals. A police source said: 'It is difficult to think of any other reason why two men should be shot, one fatally, as they put up posters at 11 o'clock at night.'
Fly-posting is usually run by one dominant local contractor of self-employed workers. Challenges to their pre-eminent position in a shadowy, often illegal business, have elsewhere been met with violence.
Mr Horrox, who lived with his parents in Glossop, Derbyshire, and Mr Carr, a married man from Sale, Greater Manchester, were described as freelance fly-posters. The business is believed to be worth more than pounds 250,000 in large cities with a variety of live music venues. Rock show posters dominated the wall where the two men were working.
Detectives were trying to trace a red Ford Transit van, registration E903 FCK.