Rizzuto shooting weakens family's power: crime experts
Published Tuesday, December 29, 2009 8:18PM EST
Nick Rizzuto Jr.'s assassination will have further repercussions on the organized crime underworld, say crime experts.
The son of Vito Rizzuto, the reputed head of Canada's mafia, was killed Monday as he was standing beside his car near an apartment complex in Notre Dame de Grace.
He was shot numerous times in the chest.
"The murder took place in the weakest moment of the Rizzuto crime family history," said Antonio Nicaso, who has made a career out of writing books on Canada's crime families. "They look more like disorganized crime than a powerful organization."
Nicaso said the family started running into trouble after Vito Rizzuto was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted of racketeering and pleading guilty to being present at the scene of a triple murder.
Nick Jr.'s namesake, his grandfather Nicolo, 85, is serving three years of probation for accepting bribes.
"I think what happened here is that someone is sending a very serious message to Vito in jail in the States and to the old man, who is... on probation, at home, supposedly too ill. They're sending a serious message that the days of the Rizzuto family are numbered, in fact almost gone. They no longer have a street-level presence," said James Dubro, a long-time crime writer, investigative journalist and expert in organized crime.
Still, said Nicaso, the shooting likely rocked the Rizzuto family and its associates.
"This is not a simple murder. This is like a tsunami in the criminal organization," Nicaso said.
"We don't know what they are thinking, this is a very tough moment," he said. "Under normal circumstances we should expect retaliation, but these are not normal circumstances because the Rizzuto crime family is in disarray. We don't know what is the next stage."
Dubro said he believes there will likely be more violence.
"I think there'll be some retaliation, if Rizzuto's people have anyone left on the ground," he said.
Meanwhile, police say they still don't have a suspect in Rizzuto's shooting.
A witness at the scene said the shooter ran to a car and drove away, screeching its wheels. Police have described him simply as a black man wearing a dark jacket, hood and jeans.
Police say they are treating the investigation as they would any other homicide case.
"The investigators from the major crime unit will be back on the scene today to meet with business owners and people from the apartment building to know if they have a surveillance camera, and if they were able to film part or the entire event," said Montreal police Const. Daniel Lacoursiere.
Lacoursiere said anyone who has information about the event is urged to call Info-Crime at 514-393-1133.
At the Montreal General Hospital Monday, CTV spoke with a member of the Rizzuto family, who was crying. He said the family declined to give a statement at this time.
With a report from CTV.ca News Staff