NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — It’s considered to be one of the biggest mob hits in decades.
A reputed Gambino boss was gunned down in front his home on Staten Island on Wednesday night, and sources told CBS2 it may have been an inside job.
Watch: NYPD News Conference On Killing Of Francesco Cali
Investigators are working multiple angles, looking into possible motives and possible suspects in this case and said police have video from a distance of one of the suspects they are looking for.
While Francesco Cali’s Todt Hill home remained a crime scene Thursday, his death marked the first murder of a mob boss in New York City in more than 30 years. His upscale neighborhood was teaming with detectives after the driveway outside of his stately brick home was the bloody scene of what’s believed to have been a brazen mafia hit.
Authorities say it’s not clear if there was more than one gunman involved.
Neighbors returning home Thursday morning were stunned by the news. Others said they heard the gunshots.
Investigators said it was around 9:17 p.m. on Wednesday when 53-year-old Cali was outside of his car in his driveway when the gunfire began.
“Mr. Cali is widely reported to be associated, on the Internet and in newspapers and prior writings, to be associated with organized crime. He exits his residence, has a conversation with an individual where approximately 12 shots are fired, with at least six striking the victim, causing his demise,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said. “Needless to say, with the potential organized crime angle, it gets the utmost importance to the NYPD and the entire detective bureau.”
“It remains a very active homicide investigation at this point. I think it’s a little preliminary to be making judgments on motive. But certainly Mr. Cali’s prior dealings, he’s been arrested prior by the feds, are a focal point at this point of the investigation, but nothing is being ruled out,” Shea said.
Shea said there were “video accounts of what took place,” but wouldn’t elaborate further. The incident apparently began when a pickup truck backed up and hit Cali’s SUV, which was parked.
“You can see on video that that car belonging to the victim rocks significantly, so it took some force to do that,” Shea said.
The crash may have been a setup, according to investigators.
“It appears quite possible that that was part of a plan” to get Cali out of the house, Shea said. “Don’t read too far into that, it’s a little preliminary.”
Cali then came out of the house and spoke with the driver of the pickup. About a minute after the conversation started, the gunman – a 25-40 year-old man – opened fire.
Cali ran to the back of his SUV to try to elude the gunfire, Shea said.
“We do have a pickup truck that flees the scene and we’re very interested with that pickup truck and we’ll be putting out photos of that,” Shea said.
Cali’s wife and young children were reportedly inside their home when he was shot. The reputed mob boss was rushed to Staten Island University Hospital North, where he was later pronounced dead.
“We have executed a warrant at that residence. We have obtained video surveillance from that scene. We’re piecing together witness canvasses, extended video canvasses. There is reports of a car pulling away. That is accurate. Again, it’s a little preliminary to say that car is definitively tied to anything or that that’s the only car or that there weren’t additional people on foot. So this is a very early stage of this investigation and we have a lot of work to do,” Shea said.
Shea said what connection this may have to other suspected recent mob activity – such as the killing of a man at a drive-through at a Bronx McDonald’s – will all be part of the investigation.
Sources said since 2015 Cali, nicknamed “Franky Boy,” had been one of three members of the so-called “ruling council” of the Gambino crime family.
Before rising to the level of boss, Cali served a 16-month sentence in federal prison for extortion for a failed NASCAR racetrack project on Staten Island.
Cali was said to have kept a low profile while running a heroin and prescription drug operation.
“He was one of the most influential organized crime figures currently alive in the New York City metropolitan area,” said former FBI agent and organized crime expert David Shapiro. “I think Mr. Cali was worth more dead than alive. He posed a threat to someone.”
Police sources say cops are now looking into several theories, including the possibility that some Gambino family members disapproved of the family’s involvement in drugs, that a rogue member of the family had a personal beef with Cali and took him out, or that a rival organized crime group like the Albanians could be involved.
“We know there used to be a mob presence here,” neighbor Will Curitore said. “We thought this was one of the safer neighborhoods on Staten Island.”
“I guess unless you’re in the mafia,” Karen Curitore added.
Cali’s SUV was taken by flatbed, with a cover. Police are hoping the gunman might have left fingerprints on the exterior of the vehicle.
The last crime family boss to be shot in New York City was Paul Castellano. The Gambino kingpin was assassinated outside Sparks Steakhouse in Manhattan in 1985.
The Gambino Family was once among the most powerful criminal organizations in the U.S., but federal prosecutions in the 1980s and 1990s sent its top leaders to prison and diminished its reach.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)