Nicolo Rizzuto, the 86-year-old father of reputed mafia boss Vito Rizzuto, has been shot to death in his home.

Police now say that at 5:40 p.m. Wednesday afternoon a gunman fired at least one bullet from Rizzuto's backyard on Antoine Berthelet St. near Gouin Blvd. in Cartierville.

Rizzuto was taken to hospital where he was confirmed dead.

Contrary to early reports that the gunman had entered the house, police say the deadly bullets were fired from outside.

"The suspect was outside the residence and shot the victim through a window," said Constable Olivier Lapointe.

Two women inside the home when Rizzuto was shot were treated for shock, and they will be questioned Thursday by the major crimes unit.

The family's lawyer, Loris Cavaliere, rushed to house soon after the death.

The major crimes unit spent the night at the scene, including organized crimes unit Cmdr. Denis Mainville.

"I don't know who killed Nicolo Rizzuto, but whoever did it wanted to remove the Rizzuto family from the Canadian underworld map," said organized crime expert Antonio Nicaso.

"He was the last godfather, the last senior member of the Rizzuto crime family alive or out of jail."

The Rizzuto clan has led the Montreal mafia since the 1978 following the demise of the Calabrese clan, when its leader Paolo Violi died.

"Since that moment they were unchallenged. That had international links and controlled everything in Montreal," said Nicaso.

Nicaso said Rizzuto's strength was combining old and new methods of organized crime.

"Many people in Sicily remember him as a charming and tough guy... but also was a person capable of combining all the tradition with innovation," he said.

Nicolo Rizzuto's murder is the most recent and highest profile attack against the powerful clan. The family, which once ruled over Canada's underworld, has been decimated in recent months.

Earlier this year, Rizzuto attended the funeral service for his 42-year-old grandson, Nick, who was named after his grandfather.

Nick Rizzuto was gunned down three days after Christmas, while he stood beside his Mercedes in Notre Dame de Grace.

Nicolo Rizzuto's next-door neighbour, Paolo Renda is Vito's brother-in-law and right-hand-man to Nicolo, was reported missing in May and is presumed kidnapped. The 70-year-old's car was found abandoned near his home.

Also this summer, Agostino Cuntrera and a man reported to be his bodyguard were gunned down in the city in broad daylight. Cuntrera, 66, was believed to have been serving as head of the mob in Montreal following Vito Rizzuto's arrest.

Nicaso said it is difficult to determine who is at the centre of the rash of mafia slayings.

"The victims are all on one side, so there is someone that is challenging the Rizzuto crime family, but it's like a ghost. It's someone without a face," he said.

"It's a combination of powers, a combination of groups, but there is no clear indication of who is challenging the Rizzuto crime family."

In February, Nicolo Rizzuto pleaded guilty to two charges of tax evasion in a Montreal court. He had been accused of failing to declare interest revenues from more than $5 million he deposited to Swiss bank accounts in the mid-1990s.

Revenue Canada investigated Rizzuto and found that in 1994 and 1995, he failed to declare $627,906 in interest.

The Canada Revenue Agency said Rizzuto paid a $209,000 fine and settled his tax debts. He had also worked out a deal to pay back taxes and other penalties.

At the time, Rizzuto was already on probation after receiving a suspended sentence for previous crimes.

In 2008, he pleaded guilty to possessing goods obtained through criminal gains and possession of proceeds of crime for the benefit of a criminal organization. He was arrested in 2006 on those charges during a police investigation dubbed "Colisee."

Nicolo Rizzuto's death is the 35th homicide of the year in Montreal.

With files from News Staff