Last October, a 37-year-old man by the name of Clinton Yow Foo was killed by a single shot from a rifle in his Scarborough driveway. The kill, accomplished from nearly 200 metres away (in dark, windy conditions), was pulled off by somebody of "considerable skill" and done from inside a specially built sniper nest, according to police. Due to Foo's past history of being involved in a massive drug and weapons bust in a 2009 "Mr. Big" sting, it's speculated that his death may have been related to an organized crime beef.
Even in organized crime, sniper kills don't normally happen in Canada. Most high-profile cases—like that of Toronto crime bosses Rocco Zito or Paul Volpe—were done in a crude but typical fashion. Zito was found gunned to death in his home, in what police said was a family dispute, and Volpe was found stuffed in the back of a trunk with a bullet in his head. In the annals of organized crime in Canada, these types of killings have been the norm—until 2010.
That's the year Nicola Rizzuto, the once godfather of the prolific Rizzuto crime family, was killed in his home. The single bullet that careened through a glass pane and fatally struck him came from a .300 calibre rifle. The man who was once thought to have possibly orchestrated the hit, Salvatore Calautti, was later killed in 2013 after his BMW was shot up outside a Toronto stag party. Both the Rizzuto and Calautti murders remain unsolved, but new details from the Foo killing shows that the the hit that killed Rizzuto shares many similarities.
"There's not many shootings of this type in Canada," Det. Sgt. Tam Bui of the Toronto Police told VICE. Bui, the lead investigator on the Foo case, revealed to media last week that the police had recovered the rifle used in that killing (a Browning BLR magnum, lever-action, .300 calibre short rifle) and noted that it was not only uniquely customized—sporting a high-powered scope and bipod mount—but that, for reasons not yet explained by the police, it had been connected to the Montreal area, the same place where Rizzuto was assassinated. Bui has since started the hashtag #catchthesniper in the unlikely case that someone on Twitter has tips on a likely mob-related assassination.
"We need to be able to vet people that fall into the categories we're looking for, so we cannot give out the details of what has us sure yet," he told VICE. "It's connected to the Montreal area. We want people to know that this is something we are looking into, and if you know anything, to come forward."
Bui declined to comment on whether Foo had any direct ties to the once-powerful Rizzuto crime family or the former godfather himself, but he did note that, prior to his arrest in 2009, Foo was highly involved with multiple criminal elements in Toronto. In the bust that landed him a 12-year sentence—later thrown out by a court appeal that found the evidence against him was circumstantial—Foo was found leaving a stash house with more than $1.7 million in cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, and guns. Bui has since asked anyone who saw Foo in Newfoundland in July 2015 to come forward, although he did not specify why to VICE.
"Organized crime killings are notorious for not being followed up," James Dubro, a former crime documentarian who tracked organized crime in Canada for decades, told VICE.
"The police just can't develop these sources. Nobody wants to talk when it comes to this. You get a lot of phony sources as well."
Dubro, who has interviewed numerous hitmen and crime bosses in the past, said that he never met a hitman in Canada with the ability to use a rifle for assassinations. According to Dubro, even legends like Cecil Kirby—a former mafia enforcer who committed a targeted bombing that killed a man and injured others before fading into witness protection in the 1980s to begin work as an undercover informant—used nothing more than "simple tools" for his attacks.
"Cecil Kirby was good at bombs and breaking legs," he told VICE. "He was no sniper."
Sniper killings are practically unheard of in Canada, and Bui says it's possible that Foo's killing was unrelated to organized crime. That said, Bui suggested this killing was not that of an untrained killer.
"There's planning, there's the setup, there's some evidence that leads us to leads us to believe this is very planned and very organized," he told VICE. "
"That uniqueness is rare to find in Canada."
Sgt. Laurent Gingras, head of the Montreal police's communications department, declined to confirm to VICE whether Toronto police had been investigating a link between the Rizzuto and Foo case, but added that all police forces are in constant communication with each other about potential leads.
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