Homicide Squad detectives are today releasing an image of a jumper they believe may help identify those involved in the fatal shooting of Paul Virgona in Donvale last November.
Emergency services initially responded to reports of a white van blocking inbound lanes on Eastlink about 2.20am on 9 November.
The 46-year-old Croydon man, who was the sole occupant of the vehicle, was located deceased inside the van with gunshot wounds.
Investigators believe a Mercedes sedan had followed Paul’s vehicle from his home in Croydon and then took off from the scene after the shooting occurred.
The occupants of the Mercedes then drove to a Volkswagen Amarok ute and subsequently set fire to the Mercedes in Jaxlee Court, Mooroolbark shortly before 2.50am.
Just after 3.10am, police sighted the Amarok on Windermere Drive in Ferntree Gully and attempted to intercept the vehicle.
Police followed the car before it was dumped in the vicinity of Mountain Highway and Scoresby Road in Bayswater. Two men then left the vehicle and ran into the adjacent parkland at Marie Wallace Bayswater Park (Bayswater Reserve).
A number of units including the Air Wing, Dog Squad and Critical Incident Response Team then searched the area, however the men were unable to be located.
A jumper, believed to have been dropped by one of the men, was subsequently found in the parkland by police.
Investigators are today releasing a photo of that jumper in the hope someone recognises it and can provide information about its owner.
It is a black sweatshirt size medium with light and dark grey panels on the sleeves, and a white Nike print on the front.
Officer in charge of the Homicide Squad, Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper, said two months on from Paul’s death police are still trying to establish why he was killed.
“Everything about this shooting indicates that it was a targeted attack, however we’re still no closer to understanding why someone wanted to shoot Paul,” he said.
“There is no motive for his killing that we have been able to establish.
“Over the past couple of months, investigators have spent time going through Paul’s life – his family, his associates, his financial situation, really anything that could possibly give us a clue about why someone wanted to do this to him.
“So far there is nothing that stands out to us. Paul was loved by his family and friends and by everyone’s account who we have spoken with, was a great person who was well liked in the community.
“There has to be some reason for this and at this time, we really need the community’s help to find out what that is.”
D/Insp Stamper also said that while police have not completely ruled out a case of mistaken identity, investigators believe it is a less likely scenario.
“It appears to us that someone has waited for Paul then deliberately followed his vehicle on to Eastlink,” he said.
“This is very different from criminals who will indiscriminately shoot into houses or vehicles; someone has wanted to fire into his van.
“However again, we just don’t know why someone would do this to Paul and we’re hopeful today’s appeal gets us closer to providing an answer for his devastated family.”
Detectives from the Homicide Squad are also still appealing to anyone with CCTV or dashcam footage who is yet to speak to police to come forward.
In particular, anyone residing or travelling in the vicinity of Marie Wallace Bayswater Park (Bayswater Reserve) as investigators are particularly keen to obtain any footage from the area where the men ran into the park.
Anyone who was travelling in the vicinity of Croydon, Ringwood, Donvale, Mooroolbark, Wantirna, Bayswater, Boronia and Ferntree Gully on 9 November between 1am and 3.30am are asked to check their dashcam for vehicles with the following registrations:
• ABE 158 (VW Van white)
• AZE 010 (Mercedes sedan)
• 1MC 9PG (VW Amarok grey)
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or make a confidential report at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au