Suspected shooter was seen running back to car
Semi-automatic military rifle used
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.
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.