Toronto Maple Leafs' defenseman Victor Mete in an Oct. 20, 2022 game.

On Sunday in Vaughan, Ontario, a mass shooter killed five people and wounded one other victim. One of the victims fatally wounded was Vittorio Panza, the maternal grandfather of Toronto Maple Leafs‘ defenseman Victor Mete. Mete put out his first statement since that shooting Thursday night, thanking fans for all the support he had received, expressing his support for the other victims and their families, and thanking first responders for their efforts.

Here’s the text of that statement:

On behalf of my entire family, I would like to say thank you to everyone for their condolences, prayers, and support during this terrible time. Our hearts are also with the other victims and their families that are going through this unspeakable tragedy. Thank you to all of the first responders for your brave response on Sunday and to YRP [York Regional Police] for your continued support. RIP Nonno. 

Here’s what a Canadian Press collection of tributes to the victims had to say about Panza:

Panza’s death has left a hole Vaughan’s tight-knit Italian community, said Mike Colle, a Toronto city councillor who was friends with the 79-year-old.

Panza was a proud Italian immigrant who was passionate about music and cuisine from his homeland, those who knew him said. He was also an impeccable dresser and a successful Realtor.

“He was your proud, hard-working immigrant Italian father and grandfather,” Colle said, adding that Panza was also gentle and lacking in malice.

“He wouldn’t hurt a fly,” Colle said.

The 24-year-old Mete (seen above during an Oct. 22 game against the Dallas Stars) grew up in the Woodbridge area of Vaughan, which borders Toronto, and was one of seven grandchildren for Panza. He was drafted 100th overall in the 2016 NHL Draft by the Montreal Canadiens and played with them through 2021, then joined the Ottawa Senators in April 2021. This last offseason, he signed a free agent contract with his hometown team, the Leafs. He’s currently recovering from a lower-body injury he picked up on Dec. 6.

This shooting is certainly an awful tragedy for the Vaughan and greater Toronto areas, and for all of those impacted. Our thoughts go out to Mete and his family, and to the friends and families of all of those affected by this.

[Victor Mete on Twitter; photo from Nick Turchiaro/USA Today Sports]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.