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Rizzuto associate gunned down in Laval had survived previous attack

MONTREAL – Ennio Bruni, an associate of the Rizzuto family gunned down outside a Laval bar early Wednesday morning, had only 10 months ago successfully survived an attempt on his life that left him with four bullet wounds.

Bruni, 36, was hit by "multiple shots" and fatally wounded about 3:15 a.m., Sgt. Benoît Richard of the Sûreté du Québec said.

Bruni was attacked as he was leaving the Café Bellerose, a bistro in a small strip mall on Bellerose Blvd. East in the Vimont district.

He was declared dead in hospital about 4 a.m.

During the Projet Colis̩e crackdown on Mob operations, Bruni had been named as a money-runner in Laval gaming houses for the Rizzuto clan Рand also as a bodyguard for Francesco del Balso, an alleged bookmaker and Mafia underboss who court documents linked with attempts to launder illegal gambling and drug profits.

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Last Nov. 24, in a similar incident with a different ending, Bruni was shot four times after leaving a restaurant on Curé Labelle Blvd., in the Ste. Rose district of Laval.

While he was approaching his car, he was hit three times in the shoulder and once in the back – but managed to drive away.

Questioned by police after his wounds were treated in hospital, Bruni had refused to file a police complaint in connection with that attack.

"I can confirm that an autopsy will be conducted" on his body, Geneviève Guilbault, a spokesperson for the Quebec coroner, said Wednesday afternoon.

The SQ took over the probe into Bruni’s death from Laval police about 7 a.m., Richard said – the usual procedure in the wake of an organized-crime hit.

Area residents are being canvassed for possible leads.

Investigators "have a lot of people to be meeting. There were people outside" when the shots rang out, Richard said: "There were people in the bar."

In mid-afternoon, the SQ and Laval police still had about 40 investigators, officers and others present on the scene.

Quebec government records list Vincenzo Spagnolo Jr. as the café’s main shareholder, with Francesco Cuffaro as its second shareholder.

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Both are listed as Laval residents.

A 48-year-old man who witnesses reported had quickly left the scene was intercepted by Laval police soon afterward, Richard said, at the intersection of Laurentian Blvd, and Highway 440.

That man "just took a car and just drove away after the shooting."

"That person was at first (considered by police as) an important witness, now he’s only a witness," Richard said.

So that man is no longer considered a possible gunman?

"For us," Richard replied, "he’s only a witness to the murder."