Nicolo (Nick) Rizzuto Sr., the patriarch of Montreal's mafia, was shot and killed in his posh north-end Montreal home Wednesday evening in a possible death blow to the once powerful clan that sat at the top of Canada's mob world for 30 years. Witnesses tell QMI Agency several shots rang out just before 6 p.m. inside the home in the city's Cartierville borough -a street on which several members of the Rizzuto family own houses. Montreal police confirmed the 86-yearold was struck by bullets around suppertime.
"At around 20 minutes to six an 86-year-old man was in his house got shot at least once," said police spokesman Daniel Lacoursiere.
"The man was transported to hospital where he was pronounced dead. Our major crimes division (will investigate)."
A wooded area behind the home was roped off and sources tell QMI Agency Rizzuto's assassin set up in the woods and shot him through a window.
Two women were with Rizzuto when he was shot and called 911. They were being treated for shock.
Police say they were aware Rizzuto might be a target and they had warned him about the threat.
Rumours of a Mafia war have been swirling in the city since the assassinations or kidnappings of top members of the Rizzuto clan.
Last December, Rizzuto's grandson, Nick Rizzuto Jr., died after he was shot six times in the chest in a brazen daylight shooting in the city's west-end.
A few months later, Nick's son-in-law, 70-year-old Paolo Renda, was kidnapped from a Montreal street and hasn't been seen since.
Five weeks after the kidnapping, the family's second-in-command, 66-yearold Agostino Cuntrera, was shot and killed in east-end Montreal along with his bodyguard, Liborio Sciascia, 40.
Then, at the end of September, Rizzuto associate Ennio Bruni was killed while leaving a cafe in suburban Laval.
Pierre De Champlain, a retired RCMP specialist in organized crime, said Wednesday's murder of the head of the family represented "the death of the Rizzuto clan."
"There is a Mafia faction that decided to end the reign," De Champlain told QMI Agency in an interview Wednesday.
"They started by eliminating the son, the brother-in-law, then the patriarch . . . they're trying to eliminate all of the people who might represent a danger for the faction that wants to take control of the Montreal mafia."
De Champlain says the fact Rizzuto Sr. was assassinated in his home in front of loved ones is a sign the clan has lost influence.
"Normally this is done in the street, not in the house" said De Champlain. "It's a lack of respect. It shows that the Rizuttos have fallen very far in the mafia world."
De Champlain said it's still too early to know who's targeting the clan.
The last man standing at the top of the organization is Nick's son, Vito Rizzuto, who ran the family for years under his father's watch.
Vito is currently serving a 10-year sentence in a U.S. prison for his role in the murders of three other mobsters in New York in 1981. Montreal police said Wednesday they are treating Vito as a witness and will contact him in jail.
Nick Rizzuto Sr. had been in semi-retirement for the final two years of his life after he was picked up in Operation Colisee, a massive 2006 roundup of Canadian mafia figures.
The elder Rizzuto eventually pleaded guilty in September 2008 to several charges including gangsterism, extortion and conspiracy to import drugs.
He was freed from prison due to frail health after serving two year sentence. More recently, Quebec financial authorities fined him $210,000 for tax evasion.