Sus­pected shooter was seen run­ning back to car

Semi-au­to­matic mil­i­tary ri­fle used

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - NICOLE O’REILLY

THE HOME OF A NO­TO­RI­OUS mob­ster sprayed with bul­lets last week was likely hit from a semi-au­to­matic ri­fle, in an at­tack that ap­pears to have been car­ried out by a shooter who stood in front of the home on a quiet, tree-lined cen­tral Hamil­ton boule­vard.

The shoot­ing at the home of Pasquale (Pat) Musi­tano came nearly two months af­ter his brother, 39-year-old An­gelo Musi­tano, was shot dead in the drive­way of his Wa­ter­down home. It is seen as a pos­si­ble warn­ing of more vi­o­lence to come — vi­o­lence po­lice say they’re wor­ried about.

Pho­to­graphs cap­tured by a free­lance pho­tog­ra­pher at the scene on St. Clair Boule­vard showed 19 shell cas­ings with ev­i­dence marker tags.

A Hamil­ton po­lice source not au­tho­rized to speak on the record con­firmed po­lice be­lieve 19 shots were fired at the home while the fam­ily slept. No one was hurt.

One per­son was seen run­ning back to a car, the po­lice source said. It’s un­clear if an­other per­son was in­volved.

Bul­let holes rid­dled the front of the home, with three hit­ting the front win­dow, and more strik­ing the win­dow pane and sur­round­ing brick. A closer look at the pho­tos shows at least one small hole through a white blind, where the bul­let went through — but didn’t shat­ter — the thick-glass win­dow.

“It’s def­i­nitely a mil­i­tary-style ri­fle with a full-ca­pac­ity mag­a­zine,” said

“It’s def­i­nitely a mil­i­tary-style ri­fle with a full-ca­pac­ity mag­a­zine.” MARK MORELLI RE­TIRED HAMIL­TON PO­LICE OF­FI­CER AND GUN AD­VO­CATE

Mark Morelli, a re­tired Hamil­ton po­lice of­fi­cer who now heads The Cana­dian Gun Vault, a firearms rights ad­vo­cacy and mar­ket­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion.

It ap­pears to be .223 cal­i­bre, he said, later adding that it’s a high ve­loc­ity round, mean­ing the bul­lets are small and move fast, but don’t have as deep of an im­pact.

That type of semi-au­to­matic ri­fle is a re­stricted firearm in Canada, but was likely il­le­gally traf­ficked from the United States — a frus­tra­tion for le­git­i­mate and re­spon­si­ble gun own­ers in Canada, Morelli said.

In this coun­try that type of firearm can only legally use a mag­a­zine that car­ries five rounds, so given the num­ber of shell cas­ings it’s likely the mag­a­zine was “full ca­pac­ity” and there­fore il­le­gal, he said.

Shell cas­ings from that type of firearm would typ­i­cally fly back be­tween three to five me­tres, to the right. There ap­pear to be two group­ings of shell cas­ings on the ground, which in­di­cates the gun or guns were fired from two dif­fer­ent spots in front of the house.

Typ­i­cally, when a gun is fired in­side a car the shell cas­ing stay in the car, in­di­cat­ing the shooter or shoot­ers were likely out­side the ve­hi­cle, he added.

Hamil­ton po­lice have con­firmed a ve­hi­cle was used in the shoot­ing, but Det. Sgt. Mike Cun­liffe said that with­out foren­sic test re­sults yet com­plete, or video ev­i­dence, po­lice don’t yet know ex­actly what hap­pened.

Hamil­ton po­lice have seized some sur­veil­lance video around the scene and con­tinue to ask any­one who may have in­for­ma­tion or video to come for­ward. In par­tic­u­lar any­one with in­for­ma­tion or video on Delaware or Cum­ber­land av­enues is asked to con­tact po­lice.

The ve­hi­cle was last seen north­bound on St. Clair fol­low­ing the shoot­ing, Cun­liffe said.

Po­lice are look­ing for ev­i­dence in a “fairly large ra­dius” around the scene.

Po­lice also con­tinue to in­ves­ti­gate any con­nec­tions be­tween the two shoot­ings, and whether they’re linked to past or on­go­ing or­ga­nized crime vi­o­lence. The Musi­tano fam­ily, while po­lite with in­ves­ti­ga­tors, has not con­sented to in­ter­views or agreed to any po­lice pro­tec­tion fol­low­ing the shoot­ings.

When An­gelo was mur­dered, a hand­gun was used. His shoot­ing was a clearly planned ex­e­cu­tion; ex­perts say the St. Clair shoot­ing was not an at­tempted “hit,” but rather a warn­ing or mes­sage to Pat.

Yet what ex­actly that mes­sage is about re­mains un­clear.

Is it re­lated to other re­cent mafia vi­o­lence in Que­bec and On­tario, in­clud­ing the lat­est — a mas­sive ex­plo­sion that knocked a wall out of a Wood­bridge café?

Or are the shoot­ings tied to some­thing fur­ther in the fam­ily’s past?

The Musi­tano fam­ily has a long crim­i­nal his­tory as one of three tra­di­tional mafia fam­i­lies in Hamil­ton. Pat, the older brother, was seen to in­herit the busi­ness af­ter their fa­ther, Do­minic’s, death in 1995.

The two broth­ers were ac­cused of or­der­ing hit man Kenny Mur­dock to take out Mob boss Johnny “Pops” Pa­palia in 1997, but struck a deal, plead­ing guilty to con­spir­acy to com­mit mur­der in the shoot­ing death of Ni­a­gara crime boss Car­men Bar­il­laro, Pa­palia’s lieu­tenant.

While po­lice be­lieve the Musi­tano or­ga­ni­za­tion re­mains ac­tive, it has been largely off the radar since the broth­ers were re­leased in Oc­to­ber 2006.

Friends have said An­gelo had found re­li­gion in re­cent years, was work­ing le­git­i­mately in con­struc­tion and turned his life around, but po­lice say they’re not sure.

An­gelo had not been the sub­ject of a po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion for many years.

And the last time po­lice in­ves­ti­gated Pat was when his ve­hi­cle was set on fire in his drive­way in Septem­ber 2015. No charges were ever laid in that case. Any­one with in­for­ma­tion on the homi­cide is asked to con­tact Det. Ja­son Cat­tle at 905546-4167. Those with tips about the St. Clair shoot­ing can call the crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions branch at 905-546-3833.

To re­main anony­mous, con­tact Crime Stop­pers at 1-800-222-8477.

JOHN REN­NI­SON, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

A Hamil­ton po­lice of­fi­cer col­lects bul­lets from the brick on the front of Pat Musi­tano’s home, fol­low­ing the at­tack. Po­lice be­lieve the shots likely came from a semi-au­to­matic ri­fle.

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