Vaughan café shooting that killed 2 likely not random, police say

As police continue to search for a gunman who opened fire at a Vaughan, Ont. café, it remains unknown what drove him to kill a hard-working mother and a young man.

Suspect in Toronto-area shooting described as a black male, fled in dark-coloured compact car

Vaughan mourns shooting victims

8 years ago
Duration 2:10
Friends of two people slain in a cafe north of Toronto wonder what could have driven a gunman to open fire. Police have not released a motive in the shooting.

As police continue to search for a gunman who opened fire at a Vaughan, Ont. café, it remains unknown what drove him to kill a hard-working mother and a young man.

York Regional Police released a security camera image of the man, whose hood is pulled over his head, captured moments before Wednesday morning's shooting, which left two dead and two wounded.

Police describe the suspect as a black male, between five feet 10 inches and five feet 11 inches tall. Investigators say he covered his face with a mask during the attack.

He then fled south from the strip mall, on Islington Avenue near Highway 7, in a dark-coloured compact car.

The shooting does not appear to be random, police said, but they haven't suggested who the target of the shooting was. 

"We have no information to believe that this was a random person that approached the café and started shooting," York Regional Police Const. Andy Pattenden said.

Christopher de Simone, 24, a regular café patron, and Maria Voci, who worked at the eatery, were killed. 

Maria Voci, 47, an employee at the Moka espresso bar who was killed in the shooting, is survived by three sons, according to a friend and neighbour. (Facebook)
Rocco Di Paolo, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Toronto in 2014 and runs an insurance business, was one of the two people wounded in Wednesday's shooting. A caregiver at his home told CBC News Di Paolo remains in hospital in critical condition on Thursday.

The fourth shooting victim has not been identified, but is said to be in stable condition in hospital.

The deadly shooting has left those who knew Voci and de Simone in shock.

  Voci's friend Sonya Soparker told CBC News that she leaves behind three children.

Christopher de Simone, 24, was killed in the shooting.
"She was a wonderful mother … so giving. I just saw those three boys. I just can't even begin to think how they feel," Soparker said.
  Rose Castoro, one of Voci's neighbours, described her as "a truly amazing mother."

"She loved those boys," a tearful Castoro said.

"I don't know why someone would go in there and start shooting at people. To take someone else's life … it's ridiculous."

A man employed by a neighbouring business described Voci as a hard worker who was there every morning. He said he's been in shock since her death.

Police canvassing area

Pattenden said police are combing through security footage from cameras mounted on the building, located in a strip mall. He urged residents to contact police with any information that may be related to the shooting.

Police are canvassing the area, have spoken to people at local businesses and are doing road-side checks.

"Our investigators with our homicide unit are out at that scene again this morning [Thursday] conducting a roadside canvas, so they're basically stopping all the vehicles travelling in that area right now and talking to anyone that might have seen anything suspicious taking place in that plaza yesterday morning at this time, or any information on ... a suspect vehicle," said Pattenden.

The area has been subject to violence in recent years: there have been four shootings in the past couple of years, two of them related to organized crime. 

Pattenden said the region is one of the safest in the country, despite Wednesday's violence.

"A significant amount of resources were deployed immediately into area to make sure the area was safe," he added.