The victim was treated by paramedics at the scene and taken to Royal Melbourne Hospital in a stable condition.
Investigators believe the 4WD may have been in the area for an extended period of time before the shooting.
Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius said on Friday that armed and newly-forming criminal networks were working together to carry out violent crimes, as police work to halt the illegal gun trade.
Mr Cornelius said unlike gangs, the loyalties of these new criminal enterprises would shift depending on the crimes they were committing.
“This presents a considerable risk not only to my members but more particularly with the community,” he said.
Mr Cornelius’s warnings came as the force investigated three shootings over four hours on Friday morning.
Mr Cornelius took on Melbourne’s north-west police portfolio in April 2019 . He said even in that short period of time he’d seen a significant increase in number of criminals using guns.
But he warned against pigeon-holing gun crime as a gang-related problem with “criminal enterprises” increasingly joining forces and changing allegiances to peddle their illegal activities.
“We see the emergence of a gun culture and a preparedness to use firearms in the facilitation of criminal activities,” he said.
“There is a real risk innocent people are going to get hurt.”
Shortly after midnight a junior, undercover police officer shot a 36-year-old Ararat man in the shoulder after he used his silver Toyota Corolla to ram two unmarked police cars the carpark of a Tullamarine McDonald’s.
Then, at 2.30am, a 25-year-old Melton man was hospitalised with a gunshot wound to his back after making his way to an Oldershaw Road home.
Two hours later, at 4.20am, paramedics were called to the back of shops on High Street, near Rufus Street, at Epping after a 35-year-old was shot in the foot.
Those responsible then fled the scene. Armed Crime Squad detectives are investigating.
March was the deadliest month for gun-related homicides in Victoria since January 2009, with five people killed across Melbourne in four unconnected shootings in less than a fortnight.
Anyone with information on the shootings should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Ashleigh McMillan is a breaking news reporter at The Age. Got a story? Email me at email@example.com
Erin covers crime for The Age. Most recently she was a police reporter at the Geelong Advertiser.