Photos show alleged gunman reaching into jacket as he approaches Mafia-linked murder victim

Homicide detectives released clear images of the suspected gunman in the murder of the son of a well-known Hamilton Mafia family that show him reaching into his jacket pocket — likely for his gun — as he walks towards his victim’s house.

The man is believed to have followed Cece Luppino, 43, into the garage of his Mountain Brow Blvd. home at about 3:10 p.m. on Jan. 30, and shot him dead.

Luppino, who was recently married, was home alone at the time. About 5:55 p.m., police received a 911 call from a family member who had returned home and found him. He was declared dead at the scene after paramedics and police arrived.

The new photos show a black man dressed all in black or dark grey, including a scarf and toque that partially cover his face. Clearly visible are his eyes — furtively looking up at a security camera he seemed to be aware of — and his cheeks and nose.

As he approached the house, he had his right hand inside his jacket, likely reaching for or holding the butt of a handgun.

Cece Luppino

The photos are from surveillance video at the Luppino home and from video of a neighbouring home, also owned by the Luppino family, but police have not released the actual video.

Investigators hope someone will recognize the man and call police with more information.

Police said officers “continue to pore over area surveillance footage” for more information.

They will be paying particular attention to whether he had an accomplice and what vehicle he used to escape the area. A dark-coloured four-door sedan was seen in the area around the time of the shooting and may be involved, police said earlier.

Hamilton police detectives said they believe the gunman had been watching the home for perhaps several days before the shooting, possibly from a small park across the road that overlooks the lower city from the escarpment.

Luppino’s shooting was targeted and “close up,” Det.-Sgt. Peter Thom, who leads the investigation, said at the time.

Thom said the victim’s family ties to organized crime form one avenue of investigation.

The last name of the victim is well-known in the underworld.

Another view of the suspected hit man HPS

Cece Luppino is the son of mobster Rocco Luppino, who, in turn, was the son of Giacomo Luppino, one of the most influential and respected Mafia leaders in Canada throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Giacomo died of natural causes in 1987.

Giacomo was already steeped in the ’Ndrangheta — the proper name of the Mafia that formed in Italy’s southern region of Calabria — when he emigrated to Canada and settled to raise his family in Hamilton.

Giacomo Luppino

Police have long alleged that Giacomo and his sons led one of the three prominent Mafia families in the city that made Hamilton an underworld powerhouse: the Luppinos, the Papalias and the Musitanos.

Recently, the Luppino family was again in the news when Rocco Luppino’s nephews, Domenico Violi and Giuseppe Violi, were caught in an RCMP police probe. A Mafia turncoat from New York agreed to work as a police informant and secretly recorded conversations with the two Violi brothers, according to police and Crown prosecutors’ documents obtained by the National Post.

According to the recordings, Domenico Violi said he had been made the underboss of the Mafia family of Buffalo, N.Y. — underboss being the second-highest rank within a Mafia group — and his uncle, Rocco Luppino, the victim’s father, was made a captain, which is a leader of a crew of soldiers within a Mafia group.

Cece Luppino’s name was also raised during the meetings between the mobsters, according to transcripts and summaries of the police recordings.

Giuseppe Violi told the informant that Cece Luppino was asked if he wanted to become a “made member” of the Mafia family in 2015, according to the transcripts. Luppino told his father that if he could make money then he would be involved, but if there was no money in it, then he would pass.

“There are too many headaches,” he was quoted as saying. Luppino continued to say that he had watched his father struggle for 30 years as a mobster, and he didn’t want to face a similar struggle.

The modus operandi of the slaying mimics two other recent Mafia murders in Hamilton.

Angelo Musitano, 39, whose father, Dominic Musitano, was a contemporary of Giacomo Luppino, was killed in Hamilton on May 2, 2017, after he returned to his house.

A gunman was also waiting outside the Hamilton home of Albert Iavarone, 50, who had links to the mob. Iavarone was shot dead when he returned home on Sept. 6, 2018.

In all cases, the three homes of the men with Mafia links were under surveillance before the attacks and were shot dead as they returned to their home.

Luppino’s death was the city’s first homicide of the year.

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