Friends told The Age they could not understand why anyone would target Mr Passanise, who was an aspiring rapper and hip hop musician who performed under the name “Kognacc”.
Melbourne musician Shawn Lee said she was introduced to him through mutual acquaintances in the industry and they became close friends.
“He’s a very smart young guy for his age, very open and broad-minded, very compassionate. We would sit and have long conversations about his passion for music and soccer.
“He would tell me about his goals and dreams with the soccer thing and teaching kids and really helping them to get the most out of it. Not just the soccer itself but for the confidence, the passion and drive for things in life. He’s really good like that.”
She said he had been pursuing music for years and was constantly writing new songs in both English and Spanish, as his family is from Argentina.
“He loved his music, loved cooking food and his herb garden. He wanted to make a veggie garden and he was really keen on doing stuff that really made him happy. He was just really bubbly and fun.”
Ms Lee said he had moved with his partner to an apartment near the beach in Sydney to pursue new opportunities and for a change of scenery. She said she had been shocked to hear news of the shooting on Saturday.
“He is a good guy with a good heart and he is generally a really good, chill, nice dude. I definitely couldn’t see anything that would lead him to that situation,” she said.
“I don’t believe in any way shape or form he would do anything to deserve that at all.”
Mr Passanise’s music producer, who goes by the name Slothy, said he had known Mr Passanise for about five or six years.
“He’s a good dude. Honestly, it makes no sense. He coaches soccer for kids. For him to get shot in Melbourne at 5am that makes no sense.”
“Kevin wouldn’t have done anything dumb enough to anyone, he’s not that kind of person. So whatever happened, they were probably looking for someone else, not him.”
He said Mr Passanise would come to Melbourne to visit his family and beloved bullmastiff who was “everything to him”.
“He never hurt nobody, he coaches soccer with kids and music-wise, he makes good music. He wasn’t just a backyard rapper, he was a hell of a muso, really good with his words,” he said.
Mr Passanise’s devastated mother Graciela Santomil told Nine News on Sunday that “everybody who knows Kevin knows he’s a good person”.
His partner Rebeca De Silva said they wanted justice for Mr Passanise.
“This is not supposed to be happening,” he said. “I love him a lot. He is everything to me.”
The shooting comes less than a week after The Age revealed a rise in gun violence in Melbourne, where twice as many people were shot in 2019 than the year before.
Anyone with information or dash-cam footage is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or via crimestoppersvic.com.au.
Simone is a crime reporter for The Age. Most recently she covered breaking news for The Age, and before that for The Australian in Melbourne.