Hamilton

Public slayings of Musitano, Iavarone meant to send a message, says expert

Albert Iavarone's death marks the second time in less than two years that the silence and sense of security in a quiet, Hamilton-area neighbourhood has been shattered by the fatal shooting of a man police believe had links to organized crime.

Former police officer says public shootings are a 'huge sign of disrespect'

Albert Iavarone was killed by someone who police say waited in the bushes near his house, then shot him as he walked to the door around 10 p.m. on Sept. 13. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Long before Albert Iavarone arrived home Thursday night, a killer drove up his affluent, Ancaster street, parked a silver vehicle and hid in the bushes — patiently waiting for his target pull up.

As the real estate agent, who police say has connections to organized crime, got out of his car and started walking to his house, he was gunned down in what's being called a "targeted attack."

Iavarone's wife and two children were home when he was shot, and even made the 911 call that brought emergency crews rushing to his home at 32 Sunflower Crescent, but it was too late. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The 50-year-old's death marks the second time in less than two years that the silence and sense of security in a quiet, Hamilton-area neighbourhood has been shattered by the fatal shooting of a man police believe had links to organized crime.

Al Iavarone worked out of Royal LePage's Hamilton office for 10 years. Police say he was connected to organized crime in Hamilton. (RoyalLePage)

In May 2017, Angelo Musitano, a member of Hamilton's notorious Musitano crime family, died after his truck was sprayed with bullets in the driveway of his Waterdown home.

In that case, people were also at the home when the fatal shots were fired, according to police who also said Musitano was "stalked" in the days leading up to his death. His killer was also waiting for him to return home.

Angelo Musitano (right) and Pat Musitano leaving Provincial Court for lunch in 1998. Angelo was killed in a targeted shooting outside his home in May 2017. (Hamilton Spectator)

Stephen Metelsky, a criminology professor at Mohawk College, who spent more than two decades as a police officer specializing in organized crime, said Iavarone is believed to be connected to the Musitanos.

Iavarone did not have a criminal record, according to police, who have not explained his alleged connection to the criminal underworld and have not determined if it was a factor in his death.

The Mafia has a level of patience that is unprecedented.- Stephen Metelsky, criminology professor

But Metelsky thinks the similarities between the shootings of Musitano and Iavarone are more than coincidence.

Traditionally, gangland killings are carried out in one of two ways; someone suddenly disappears and is never heard from again, or they're shot up to send a message, according to the professor.

When it comes to Iavarone's death, Meteskly said the public shooting was no accident — the killing served a purpose.

"It's very telling when that person is waiting in the bushes to shoot him right near his front door, probably fully knowing he has a wife and two kids," he said.

"It's a huge sign of disrespect and says that this person's life and family are worthless to the underworld."

Police say Iavarone was shoot outside his home at 32 Sunflower Crescent in Ancaster. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Hamilton Det. Sgt. Peter Thom is managing the investigation into both the Musitano and Iavarone shootings.

He said it's a "possibility" the killings are linked and that investigators are examining "all options."

The fight for power

During a press conference Friday, Thom pointed to a number of "murders, bombings and arsons" in the GTA and the Montreal-area in recent years as examples of ongoing unrest linked to the mob.

"It's our belief there is something going in the underworld, maybe a power struggle," he said.

Antonio Nicaso, a Mafia expert who teaches courses on organized crime at Queen's University, told CBC News it does appear different groups are vying for power in Ontario and Quebec right now — but it's unclear whether or not this incident is related. 

"There is a power struggle. There is violence related to the power vacuum left by the Rizzutos," he said.

Vito Rizzuto, the former head of the Montreal Mafia, died in 2013 following the assassinations of his father and son, Nick Jr.

Musitano was the son of Dominic Musitano, a longtime crime boss in Hamilton who had close ties to the Rizzutos. Both Musitano and his brother, Pat Musitano, served nearly 10 years in prison for their roles in the 1997 shooting death of Johnny Papalia — arguably Hamilton's most infamous Mafia figure — and one of his lieutenants, Carmen Barillaro.

Stephen Metelsky is a criminology professor at Mohawk College and spent more than two decades as a police officer who specialized in organized crime. (Stephen Metelsky)

But despite the seeming escalation in mob violence, Metelsky said he doesn't expect to see any sort of knee-jerk reaction to Iavarone's death.

"The Mafia has a level of patience that is unprecedented," he said. "They will wait years to exact revenge if necessary." 

with files from Adam Carter

now