By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — KENMORE — Police said Tuesday that the killing of Jim Cottone in his Landers Road home was "not a random act," and wasn't the result of a burglary or break-in.
But village Police Chief Peter Breitnauer wouldn't say much more, only commenting that "it is a possibility" that the suspect was an acquaintance of Cottone, who owns Malone's Bar and Grill on Delaware Avenue in Kenmore.
An employee of the Delaware Avenue bar found Cottone, 62, dead in his home Sunday morning after he didn't show up at a work meeting. In a press release issued Sunday, police said he died from "blunt force injuries." On Tuesday afternoon, crime scene tape remained posted around the home and yard, located at 21 Landers Ave., where police believe the homicide took place, and the bar remained closed.
An autopsy has also been completed as part of the investigation, but both the Erie County Medical Examiner's Office and Breitnauer would not comment on the results.
No arrests have been made in the case.
Employees at the bar expressed shock and sadness following the crime, but would not comment on the incident. Another friend, Joe Carriero, said he talked to Cottone daily and was extremely startled by the homicide.
"He was just a happy guy," Carriero, who owns Marco's Italian Deli located next to Malone's, said. "He was always upbeat."
When looking back over the recent weeks and months leading to his friend's death, Carriero said one recent event — a burglary at the bar in March — stands out.
"Jim told me all about the theft ... he suspected it was an ex-employee. I know it really upset him,," Carriero said. "They had a key and went in, and emptied out the register on him. He was going to confront the person about it, and I couldn't tell you if he ever did."
But despite the burglary, as well as a recent electrical fire at the bar's shed, Cottone's mood never wavered.
"It was just the kind of guy he was," Carriero said.
Carriero said Cottone was "very vague" when discussing his past, except to say he previously owned a motel.
During an interview with a News reporter in February, Cottone only characterized himself as a businessman who always dreamed of owning a restaurant.
"He was working very hard at it. He was busting his butt to make this place the way he wanted it to be," Carriero said. "He had a vision for it. No matter what happened, he wasn't stopping."Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter at @JessicaLBagley