Montreal police are searching NDG for a man who was spotted while carrying a firearm toward the house of construction magnate Tony Magi.

Two private security guards spotted a man walking toward them around 6:30 a.m. near the intersection of Beaconsfield and Somerled Avenues, while carrying a weapon which they believed to be a semi-automatic firearm, said Montreal police Const. Simon Delorme. Upon seeing the security guards the man fled.

Police were immediately notified and they began a search, finding what was initially reported as a rifle but police later confirmed was much smaller.

"During the first search of the morning police officers found the weapon, a firearm, a small semi-automatic or automatic weapon. There's other evidence around the area," Delorme said.

Police set up a security perimeter several blocks wide while they searched the area for any sign of the suspect, and also used dog patrols to try and track down the suspect.

Not the first time

Magi is a Montreal businessman with alleged ties to the Montreal Mafia and the Rizzuto clan. He pleaded guilty to a weapons charge in 2011.

Two years ago at that same street corner, Magi's wife Rita Biasini was the target of gunfire after a man who had been lying in wait opened fire.

Magi and his family have been protected by hired guards ever since Magi himself survived an assassination attempt in 2008.

In that attack gunmen shot at Magi while he was driving on nearby Cavendish Blvd. Magi crashed his car but avoided any serious injury.

Rude awakening for neighbours

Neighbour Allesandra Anastasio had a rude awakening when he stepped out of his home Wednesday morning to walk his dog.

“All I heard was two cars taking off,” he said. “I live on Beaconsfield and I heard lots of screaming.”

The screaming turned out to be from the two security guards in hot pursuit of the gunman.

Neighbour Yannick McCarthy said she changed her dog walking route two years ago after seeing security guards outside Magi’s home.

“My neighbours said it's better not to walk by there, now that I know there are people with guns I will definitely avoid it. That's terrifying,” she said.