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Old Posted Jan 25, 2008, 6:48 AM
craneSpotter craneSpotter is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Victoria,CANADA
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Don't think this has been posted...Van is at ?? 4-5


Vancouver shooting bears hallmark of gang hit

From Monday's Globe and Mail

January 21, 2008 at 12:44 AM EST

VANCOUVER — Two men were shot to death just outside a swank, high-end restaurant frequented by celebrities and Hollywood stars on Saturday night, ending a brief lull in the city's spate of gangland violence with a hail of gunfire.

The victims had been on their way to a private party at the Gotham Steakhouse and Cocktail Bar when two assailants gunned them down before horrified pedestrians thronging Seymour Street in the heart of downtown Vancouver, an area packed with bars, coffee shops and late-night grocery stores.

Police spokesman Constable Tim Fanning said it was fortunate no one else was hurt in the brazen attack.

“It was alarming to everyone down there. People were just shocked that this would happen in such a busy, busy area,” Constable Fanning said.
Bodies lie on the pavement beside a Range Rover outside a popular restaurant on Seymour Street in Vancouver early Sunday.

Bodies lie on the pavement beside a Range Rover outside a popular restaurant on Seymour Street in Vancouver early Sunday.

The private party, booked into a secluded downstairs room at the restaurant, was to have celebrated the recent engagement of one of the victims, 37-year old Ricardo Francis Scarpino of West Vancouver.

One of the invited guests dropped a loaded semi-automatic handgun when stopped by police as he attempted to leave the premises, moments after the shootings. He was arrested and is facing charges of having an illegal weapon and cocaine possession.

Constable Fanning said Mr. Scarpino was familiar to police for his criminal associations and was almost certainly the prime target of the well-executed hit.

“He was obviously on somebody's list to kill…. They lay in waiting and picked their opportunity to do this.”

Mr. Scarpino was convicted and served time for heading up a huge cocaine smuggling ring based in Victoria in the late 1990s.

But the convictions were subsequently stayed several years later by the Crown for undisclosed reasons, and Mr. Scarpino was soon released.

In 1993, Mr. Scarpino killed a man in a busy Los Angeles restaurant, while acting as a bounty hunter. He was not charged with murder, however, because investigators could not disprove Mr. Scarpino's claim that he acted in self defence.

He had also served time for property theft.

Constable Fanning said the second victim, a 38-year West Vancouver resident described as a friend of Mr. Scarpino, was not known to police. His identity is being withheld, pending notification of next of kin.

The attack took place while Mr. Scarpino and three passengers were still inside his black 2007 Land Rover that had pulled up to the restaurant.

A pair of black-clad gunmen ran up and pumped numerous bullets at the victims, before dashing off down a nearby alley. Two handguns were found a block away.

Mr. Scarpino was killed right beside his fiancée, who had been sitting in the front seat of the Land Rover.

“She is very, very distraught, as you can imagine,” said Constable Fanning. “It was an absolutely horrific thing to happen on what was supposed to have been a very joyous evening.”

The Gotham Steakhouse, located in a refurbished art deco building beside the Hudson's Bay store, is often a dining retreat for celebrities, attracted by its dark, secluded interior and reputation for good wines and excellent cuisine.

Past guests have included Halle Berry, Pierce Brosnan, Mark Wahlberg, Nicolas Cage, Hugh Jackman, Kid Rock and Michael Buble.

General manager Christopher Langridge said that, as far as he knew, members of the private party had not eaten previously at the restaurant.

“We've had prime ministers and so many celebrities here. This was a very rare situation. It's certainly not an everyday event for our staff and our guests,” Mr. Langridge said.

A woman who lives in the area told reporters that she rushed to the scene after hearing as many as six shots.

“I'd never seen dead people before. It was horrible,” said the woman, who identified herself only as “Charm.”

“One of the bodies was pulled onto the sidewalk. You don't expect to have people being gunned down on your back door step. It's really shocking.”

The killings were the first serious gang-related violence since Lower Mainland police formed a highly publicized Violence Suppression Team in early November, in the wake of a raft of gangland homicides in the city and surrounding suburbs, including the slaying of six people in a Surrey apartment.

Police suggested that gangs were lying low because of their stepped-up anti-gang activities.

“It's been pretty quiet for a long time,” said Constable Fanning, “But sadly, we were not able to prevent this double homicide. There are a lot of guns out there and a lot at stake in the criminal world…. Complete eradication is almost impossible.”

Reacting to the weekend homicides, Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan stopped short Sunday of endorsing Toronto Mayor David Miller's call for a complete ban on handguns.

“My understanding is that these handguns are being smuggled into Canada, so they are not legal to begin with,” Mr. Sullivan said. “But I certainly support anything that will be effective against these gangs.”

A better way, the mayor argued, is to consider legalizing drugs or giving the green light to his plan to wean addicts off drugs by prescribing legal alternatives.

“If you eliminate profits from illegal drugs, there would be no violence,” Mr. Sullivan said.
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