"This was something to send a message": Death of reputed Gambino boss proves mob is still alive and well

Reputed mob boss murdered

One of the most notorious gangs of New York is at the center of a new mob murder mystery. Francesco "Franky boy" Cali, the reputed boss of the Gambino crime family, was gunned down and mowed down last night outside his house on Staten Island.

It happened just after 9 p.m. ET Wednesday night. There were a dozen shots in all, six of them striking Cali in the chest. His wife and children were home at the time.

"He has a conversation with an individual in front of that residence and that individual at some point in time, it's only about a minute into it, pulls out a firearm and shots are fired," said NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea.

Police said surveillance video captures the shooter, and the pick-up believed to be the getaway truck.

Mob Shooting
Police work near the scene where an alleged leader of the Gambino crime family was shot and killed in the Staten Island borough of New York, Thursday, March 14, 2019. Francesco "Franky Boy" Cali, 53, was found with multiple gunshot wounds to his body at his home Wednesday night. AP

Cali's body was found in an area of Staten Island that has been home to some of New York's most notorious mobsters and their families.

"This is not a robbery. This was something to send a message and make sure that it was heard loud and clear," said David Shapiro, former special agent with the FBI.

Wednesday night's shooting is reminiscent of the 1985 murder of another Gambino crime boss, Paul Castellano, who was gunned down outside a popular New York City steakhouse in 1985.

Castellano's death led to the rise of John "Dapper Don" Gotti, who then took over as Gambino family boss, running criminal enterprises ranging from gambling to money laundering to prostitution. After Gotti went to prison, Cali eventually took over the organization. Shapiro believes the killing shows the mob is alive and well.

"Now the traditional mob makes its money through drugs. That's where most of the money is now," he said.

Police are looking into whether this was the work of an organized crime gang, or a faction inside the Gambino family, including John Gotti's brother, Gene, who was just released just months ago after serving 29 years for dealing heroin.