“It hasn’t gone to plan,” Detective Inspector Tim Day said this afternoon. “I have very little doubt that in the fullness of time they will be apprehended. That’s all it is. A matter of time.”
Insp Day was updating media on the investigation into the shooting murder of 46-year-old Croydon father-of-two Paul Virgona.
Mr Virgona, a beloved and well-known fruiterer, was driving along EastLink shortly after 2am when a stolen Mercedes pulled up alongside him and as many as 11 shots from a high-powered weapon were fired into his van.
He was found dead inside the vehicle after police received reports that the van was blocking traffic.
Insp Day said two men in the Mercedes exited the freeway at Springvale Road before torching the vehicle at Mooroolbark and getting into a VW Amarok.
The Amarok was spotted at Ferntree Gully an hour later, and when police approached, the alleged offenders fled.
A pursuit that lasted less than five minutes ended when the two men exited the vehicle at Bayswater and ran through Bayswater Reserve. The dog squad was called in, but the two men managed to escape.
Insp Day would not be drawn on giving a description of the men but said police had that information in their possession.
He said police were working on determining a motive for the shooting and assured the public there was “no suggestion whatsoever that there’s somebody out there randomly shooting at vehicles”.
“It could be related to his social network. It could be mistaken identity,” Insp Day said.
“He’s a family man. Nobody deserves to be gunned down on a freeway.”
He said the victim’s family were understandably suffering through an unthinkable loss.
“They’ve lost a loved father, husband. They’re doing it tough,” Insp Day said.
Investigators are particularly keen to obtain any footage from the area where the men ran into the park.
Inspr Day asked residents nearby to check their CCTV and motorists who may have been on the roads in Melbourne’s southeast in the early hours of Saturday morning to check their dashcams for vehicles with the following registrations:
• AZE 110 (Mercedes sedan)
• ABE 158 (White VW Van)
• IMC158 (Grey VW Amarok grey)
Anyone who witnessed the incident or with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or make a confidential report at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au