Alleged mobsters shot to death at Vaughan stag party
Published Friday, July 12, 2013 6:41AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, July 12, 2013 6:56PM EDT
An alleged hitman suspected of several murders in the GTA and a member of his crew have been identified as the victims of an early morning shooting outside a banquet hall at a stag party north of Toronto.
Police say Salvatore Calautti, 41, and James Tusek, 35, were shot to death around 1 a.m. on Friday after gunfire broke out outside a bachelor party at Terrace Banquet Hall in Vaughan, Ont., where up to 500 people were in attendance.
"At the time there was a bachelor party taking place,” York Regional police Cont. Blair McQuillan told reporters on Friday. “Investigators believe there were between 100 and 500 people on scene, closer to the 100 mark at the time this incident took place."
Investigators believe the shooting was a targeted event. “At this point it doesn’t appear to be a random event,” McQuilland said.
Calautti, described as a small and round man with connections to several murders dating back to 1991, was found in the driver’s seat of a black BMW with a bullet wound to his head.
His long-time crew member, Tusek, appeared to be found next to the vehicle. Police say he was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Sources tell CTV Toronto that Calautti, a father of three and a heavy gambler, is an alleged hitman suspected of several murders in the GTA. He had been employed by the Calabrian mafia since he was a teenager, when he worked as a debt collector, according to sources.
Calautti, who was known as a man with a short temper who always carried a gun, is connected to the shooting death of Giovanni Costa in 1991, according to sources. Costa was gunned down near his home in Vaughan.
Calautti, who also owned a restaurant in Toronto, is also believed to be behind the murder of a 41-year-old casket salesperson. Gaetano Panepinto was fatally shot in 2000 as he drove his maroon-coloured Cadillac in the city’s west end near Laurel Avenue and Bloor Street West.
According to police sources, Panepinto’s death was a revenge killing.
Calautti is also connected to the 2004 botched mob hit at a California Sandwiches restaurant that left an innocent woman, Louise Russo, paralyzed.
According to sources, Calautti was not one of the shooters in the drive-by shooting, but it was his gambling debts that set the wheels in motion for the mob hit.
York Regional police say autopsies have been scheduled for Saturday morning. A forensic investigation unit remained on the scene Friday afternoon.
Police are asking anyone who may have been in the area at the time to contact the Homicide Unit at 1-866-876-5423 ext. 7865 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.
With a report from CTV Toronto’s Tamara Cherry and The Canadian Press