STATEN ISLAND, NY — The reputed boss of the Gambino crime family was shot dead in front of his Staten Island home Wednesday night, according to police and multiple reports.
Francesco Cali, 53, suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the torso and was rushed to Staten Island University North where he was pronounced dead, police said. Officers had responded to the alleged mobster’s Hilltop Terrace home in Staten Island’s Todt Hill neighborhood at 9:17 p.m. for reports of an assault in progress, police said.
Cali’s family members were distraught as they waited for first responders to arrive at the home, witnesses told the New York Daily News. One woman screamed “Why doesn’t the ambulance come? He’s not breathing!” and a man was heard shouting “Papa! Papa!” before breaking down in tears on the home’s lawn, witnesses told the Daily News.
A suspect has not been identified and the investigation into the shooting is ongoing, police said. A blue pickup truck was seen fleeing the scene of the shooting, according to reports.
Cali, also known as “Franky Boy,” was an ascendant figure in the Gambino crime family — one of New York City’s most influential organized crime families — and rose to the position of acting boss in 2015 when he replaced former boss Domenico Cefalu, the Daily News reported.
The Staten Island mob boss’ killing is the first time a New York City mafia family leader was murdered since the 1985 shooting of Gambino boss Paul Castellano in Midtown Manhattan. Famed Gambino boss John Gotti ordered the hit on Castellano in front of Sparks Steakhouse on East 46th Street during a power struggle to take control of the mafia family, which was the largest in the nation at the time.
Gotti’s hit on Castellano, known as Big Paul, was motivated by a sense of self-preservation. Gotti feared that Castellano would kill him and his brother Gene killed because Gene’s crew was trafficking heroine, which the Gambino family had prohibited due to the increased attention it drew from law enforcement.
Cali rose to prominence quickly within the Gambino family, rising to the rank of “capo” before his 40th birthday, after joining the crime organization, the Daily News reported. A native of Sicily, both Cali and his wife have “deep mob roots” according to the report.
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