Detectives investigating the weekend shooting of a former Hells Angel are looking closely at an argument he had with a woman in an east end bar shortly before he was chased by two gunmen and killed.
Police say they want to speak to anyone who might have witnessed the interaction James “Lou” Malone had with the woman in the hours before he was killed. Investigators say they want more details on that incident as well as Malone's overall movements and whereabouts that evening as they try to establish who killed him and why.
'It’s not something we care to talk about.' - Hells Angels clubhouse spokesperson
Malone, who was gunned down steps away from his east Hamilton home, was known to people in the neighbourhood as “a real sweetheart” who treated neighbourhood children to rides on his motorcycle for their birthdays.
But police know him as a former biker with a extensive criminal record including crimes of violence.
Malone was shot dead on Kenilworth Avenue at Hope Avenue just after 1:20 a.m. on Saturday, only about 250 metres from his house on Robins Avenue.
Police say the shooting was “targeted.” Malone’s killers chased him through the neighbourhood, said Hamilton homicide detective Peter Thom, and then sped away in a pickup truck while the 49-year-old lay bleeding on the sidewalk.
Thom said the police have made no arrests in the case, but are looking for two men who fled the crime scene in a grey Dodge Ram.
In a release Tuesday, investigators outlined how the crime played out through neighbourhood streets.
The first attack came at Robins Ave and Cannon Street. This is where Malone was walking his dogs when first approached by a gunman carrying a shotgun.
The gunman fired at Malone, with the blast hitting the front door of a Robins Avenue home.
Malone ran east on Cannon St, as the gunman chased him and he was followed by a second man driving a grey, Dodge Ram pick-up truck.
The second attack came at the northwest corner of Britannia Ave and Kenilworth, a block east and a block north, where “witnesses reported further shots being fired at Mr. Malone.”
The third and fatal scene was outside of 225 Kenilworth Ave North, another block north. Here, he was shot at close range and this is where his body was found. Two store windows in the area were shot out.
The gunmen took off southbound in the truck to Brittannia and drove westbound.
Police have been reviewing surveillance camera footage from local businesses.
Malone a "sweet guy"
Mia, a resident of Robins Avenue, said Malone was a “really sweet guy” who was kind to the children in the neighbourhood. She said Malone — a muscular, bald man — would give her two daughters change to buy goodies at the convenience store.
“All the kids on the street would get a ride on the back of his motorcycle on their birthdays,” said Mia, who asked for her last name not to be published. “He was a real sweetheart.”
Malone lived with his girlfriend, Julie, and regularly took the couple’s dogs out for walks, Mia said.
Another Robins Avenue resident described Malone as "a great neighbour.” She said there was no sign that he was involved in any activities that would render a him a target.
Man had 'extensive' criminal record: police
What little information police have given about Malone paints a different picture. Thom, the lead investigator in the case, said Malone was “previously a member of the Hells Angels” and had accumulated an “extensive and violent criminal record.”
It’s not clear precisely when and why Malone left the biker gang. Thom said he believes Malone left the club two years ago and went on to work stints in construction.
Thom says investigators are also talking to "friends and associates" of Malone to try to find the motive for the shooting.
CBC Hamilton went to the Hamilton Hells Angels' clubhouse at Gage Avenue North and Beach Road— a two-storey brick building with a windowless main floor and locked doors fortified with steel panels — looking for comment from the chapter.
A man, who didn’t identify himself, responded from behind the screen of a second-storey window. He said the Hamilton Hells Angels would not discuss Malone nor the circumstances surrounding his death.
“It’s not something we care to talk about.”
'This is east Hamilton. What do you expect?', neighbour says
Saturday morning’s brazen shooting has cast a pall on the east Hamilton neighbourhood where Malone lived. Dozens of residents spent the day indoors, trapped inside a cordoned-off crime scene that spanned several city blocks.
“It’s a nice neighbourhood… but now I’m anxious about going outside,” Steven Bearfoot, who lives in an apartment above the storefront where Malone was killed, said on Monday.
Bill, a Robins Avenue resident, said his was the doorway hit with gunfire.
“Everybody’s a little upset,” he said. “But this is east Hamilton. What do you expect?”
Many residents of the neighbourhood, as well as patrons at Kenilworth Avenue bars, were reluctant to speak about the shooting and Malone’s presence in the area.
Explaining why he and his friends were unwilling to comment on the matter, a customer at the Get Together Bar and Grill said, “We don’t want to be next.”