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Gunfire rang out in the midst of a crowded outdoor patio at a café on College St. and Montrose Ave. in Little Italy as soccer fans took in a match between Italy and Ireland. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
Gunfire rang out in the midst of a crowded outdoor patio at a café on College St. and Montrose Ave. in Little Italy as soccer fans took in a match between Italy and Ireland. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

Stray bullet in café killing hit innocent bystander Add to ...

A man who was shot in the stomach during Monday’s homicide at a Little Italy ice-cream shop was an innocent victim, according to Toronto police.

The injured man, whose name and other identifying information is not being released by police, was hit by a stray bullet during the targeted killing of John Raposo, 35, at the Sicilian Sidewalk Café on College Street east of Ossington Ave.

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“He just happened to be sitting there,” said Constable Victor Kwong, a spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service. “He was not the intended target.”

Constable Kwong said the man’s injuries were not life threatening, but his current condition is unknown. Police would not say which hospital the victim was taken to, which Constable Kwong said is standard practise. He explained that this information is almost never provided in the case of victims of violence for fear “they might go there to kill them off.”

Witnesses to the shooting recalled hearing five gunshots. Mr. Raposo, the target of the hit, was struck multiple times and died on the spot from a wound to the head.

It is still unclear why Mr. Raposo was gunned down amid a large crowd of soccer fans watching the European championship.

On Wednesday afternoon, the owners of the café made their first public comments in the wake of the shooting. Standing on College Street, surrounded by area business owners and politicians, CEO Maria Galipo read from a prepared statement.

“On behalf of my entire family, too many to name individually, I can only express how devastated we are by this incident, and extend our heartfelt sympathies to the victims and their families,” she said. “We were told last evening by the police that we could have our café back, and we are working hard to open up again in a day or two.”

Ms. Galipo did not take questions and said nothing more about the victim, Mr. Raposo, who was a regular of the café and owned a house nearby.

Former deputy mayor Joe Pantalone, who lives a block away, said he is well-acquainted with the café, which opened in 1959, but added that he did not know Mr. Raposo.

“It is a safe establishment, it is well-run. There has never been any issue there,” he said. “It’s a one -off.”

Mr. Raposo, who was widely known in the neighbourhood as Little John and Johnny Maserati, had a profile with police, running afoul of the law multiple times over the past 15 years. Next month, he was set to stand trial over accusations he beat up a man over a game of gin rummy at a suburban club. Despite his record, however, Mr. Raposo is not believed to belong to any organized crime group.

Two days after the execution-style hit, the gunman remained on the loose.

Investigators now believe the killer, who was dressed in a white construction hat, a dust mask and an orange safety vest, may have been lurking in the alleyways north of the café in the hours before the homicide. After the shooting, the killer fled north on foot in view of numerous bystanders.

Police are asking people who were in the area before or during the shooting to recall whether they saw anyone matching the description of the suspect. He is described as six feet tall with shoulder-length blond hair and a medium build.

 

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