Alleged Montreal mafia leader Leonardo Rizzuto shot in Laval

"The attempt was to kill Mr. Rizzuto and not just to scare him," says Antonio Nicaso, an organized crime expert, after alleged mafia boss, Leonardo Rizzuto, was the target of an attempted murder Wednesday and survived. Alyssia Rubertucci reports.

Alleged mafioso Leonardo Rizzuto survived an attempted murder by firearm Wednesday afternoon in Laval.

The 53-year-old was reportedly shot in the leg while inside a vehicle.

A Sûreté du Québec spokesperson said around 4:40 p.m., a man in his 50s was shot inside a black Mercedes on Highway 440, near Highway 13 in Laval. He was injured to the lower body but his life is not in danger. Police would not confirm the victim’s identity.

There are reports Rizzuto was shot at from another moving vehicle at least six times.

Leonardo Rizzuto is the youngest son of the late Vito Rizzuto, the former godfather of the mafia in Montreal.

“I think the attempt was to kill Mr. Rizzuto and not just to scare him. So I think whoever decided to mastermind this shooting is clearly trying to control some of the criminal activities that were controlled by the old guard of the Rizzuto crime family,” explained Antonio Nicaso, a Queen’s University lecturer and expert on the Calabrian Mafia who has written over 40 books on organized crime.


Leonardo Rizzuto leaves a Montreal courthouse Thursday, Oct. 16, 2008. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes.

“I thought that there was a truce in in Montreal, but I have always said that in the world of organized crime, revenge, it doesn’t have a statute of limitation,” he added.

He says this may have been about division of turf.

“Perhaps Leonardo Rizzuto’s inactivity in recent times has stirred up some appetites in the people who once were once loyal to him, or at least loyal to his father, but in this case, the attack could also be supported by members of other criminal organizations,” Nicaso said.

A public security expert says the shooting is worrisome, saying it’s been a calm two years in terms of Mafia-related activity.

“When you’re shooting in moving traffic, it could have dangerous consequences, a lost bullet,” said retired Montreal police officer, André Durocher. “It could go through a window and hit somebody else in a car. That to me is very, very preoccupying and I think a lot is going to be done in order to find whoever did that.”

The patriarch of the family, Nicolo Rizzuto, was shot dead in his Montreal home in 2010.

His son Vito, the mafia godfather, died of cancer a few years later, in December 2013, after a 10-year prison stay in the U.S.

Vito’s son and Leonardo Rizzuto’s brother, Nicolo Rizzuto Jr, was killed in 2009.

Leonardo (Left) and Nicolo Rizzuto walk into court on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2004, for a bail hearing for their father Vito, an alleged crime boss.(CP PHOTO/Ian Barrett)

Quebec’s Public Security Minister François Bonnardel says he doesn’t believe this will directly translate into an increase in gun violence on the streets of Montreal and Laval.

But some say that’s an optimistic thought.

“It’s possible that with this shooting, other shootings will resume,” said Nicaso. “It’s difficult to predict what could happen. But I don’t think it’s anything good. If you try to kill the son of Vito Rizzuto, you are looking to score big and the consequences are unpredictable. At this point, anything can happen.”

“We all hope that there won’t be any types of retaliation, but given the history in organized crime, it would be very surprising that there is no retaliation,” said Durocher.

Leonardo Rizzuto was arrested and charged with gangsterism, illegal possession of a weapon and drug possession in 2015, but was acquitted after three years of court proceedings, because evidence gathered by the police through wiretapping was inadmissible in court.

The investigation has now been transferred to the Sûreté du Québec because the shooting took place on a provincial highway, which is the SQ’s jurisdiction.

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