Detective on Musitano murder: Police 'trying to unravel' motivation for mobster hit

The shooting Tuesday interrupted a long stretch of relative quiet on the traditional organized crime front in the city.

"I don't say it's a war; it's been fairly quiet': Hamilton police detective leading the investigation

Det. Sgt. Peter Thom speaks with reporters across the street from the house where Angelo Musitano was shot and killed Tuesday. (Kelly Bennett/CBC)

The Musitano family has not asked police for any protection in the wake of the shooting Tuesday that left Angelo Musitano dead in his driveway, police said.

Musitano, 39, was shot at close range in front of his Waterdown house with his wife and three young children inside in what police called "a very deliberate and targeted attack". He died in hospital.

Almost exactly 24 hours later, the Hamilton police detective leading the investigation said in front of that house that the shooting Tuesday interrupted a long stretch of relative quiet on the traditional organized crime front in the city.

Angelo Musitano (right) and Pat Musitano leaving Provincial Court for lunch in 1998. Angelo was killed in a targeted shooting outside his home on Tuesday. (Hamilton Spectator)
"I don't say it's a war; it's been fairly quiet," said Det. Sgt. Peter Thom. "If this is an organized crime-type situation, we haven't had one in Hamilton for a very long time."

Asked if he expects any retribution, Thom said: "From his family? I'm hoping not."

It appears the shooting was captured on security videos.

Thom said footage gleaned from several security camera feeds showed a heavyset man getting out of a dark, four-door sedan, walking up to the driver's side of Musitano's pickup truck and shooting him at close range. Police said the man weighed about 230 pounds and was wearing a dark tuque, black jacket and greyish pants — an updated description changed from the pants colour police initially said.

Thom said police are "still trying to unravel" a theory of why Musitano was shot Tuesday, and will be "reaching out to our policing partners to try to determine if there is any kind of connection" to other attacks in Ontario.

He said police will remain at the house on Wednesday afternoon to protect the scene while evidence is still being gathered, not due to any safety risk in the neighbourhood.

'Limited police contact'

Musitano's late father was Domenic Musitano, a well known Mafia boss in the city and the Musitano name has long been associated with organized crime in the city.

Brothers Angelo and Pat Musitano were charged with first-degree murder in connection with the brazen 1997 shooting of Hamilton crime boss Johnny (Pops) Papalia and one of his lieutenants, Carmen Barillaro.

The brothers reached a deal and pleaded to conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Barillaro. In turn, the charges against them in connection with Papalia's death were dropped.

Police tape remained up Wednesday at the house where Ang Musitano was shot and killed Tuesday. (Kelly Bennett/CBC)
They were sentenced to 10 years in jail. They got out in 2007, and Musitano had mostly flown under the radar ever since. 

But in recent years, Ang Musitano had found religion and seemed to be trying to forge a new life.

Thom said he "couldn't answer" whether Pat Musitano should be worried.

A vehicle in front of Pat Musitano's house in the lower city was set on fire in 2015,  which organized crime expert James Dubro called a "message."

But for Ang Musitano, the victim of Tuesday's shooting, Thom said: 

"Certainly he's had limited police contact since his release from jail."

Dubro, who has written extensively about the Mafia in Ontario, told CBC News that the shooting seems like revenge for Angelo's previous crimes. He doesn't view it as any kind of power move by another organization.

"It's not surprising at all to me. In fact, I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner," Dubro said. "To me, it wasn't a question of how or why, but when?

"Since they got out, there's been a target on their backs."


With files from Adam Carter, Laura Clementson