Reputed Gambino crime boss killed in New York City tried dodging bullets by hiding under SUV, cops say

The reputed boss of New York’s Gambino crime family who was shot to death in front of his home tried to hide under his own SUV during the shooting, according to new reports.

Police said Thursday they were reviewing surveillance-camera video of the attack on Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali, 53, who was gunned down Wednesday night at his red-brick colonial-style house in a quiet Staten Island neighborhood. The shooter sped off in a pickup truck, police said. No immediate arrests were made.

“What I believe happened was Mr. Cali was struck several times by gunfire. In trying to elude additional gunfire, fled to the rear area of his private vehicle and somebody probably thought he was run over, but it was more he was trying to get underneath the truck to elude gunfire,” Chief of Detectives Dermott Shea told reporters at a news conference, as The New York Post reported.

The mobster emerged from his home around 9:15 p.m. after the gunman backed his pickup into Cali’s Cadillac SUV, damaging it, according to police. “With what we know at this point in time, it’s quite possible that was part of a plan,” Shea said.

Video showed the attacker pulling a 9 mm handgun and opening fire on Cali about a minute after they started talking, according to Shea. At least 12 shots were fired. After he was shot several times, Cali tried to crawl under his SUV to hide, Shea said.

Footage seemed to show that Cali had been drawn out of his house after a pickup truck backed into the SUV, forcing the license plate to detach, a law-enforcement official who saw the video told the Daily Beast.


Aggressive federal prosecutions in the past 25 years have decimated the ranks of New York’s five Mafia families. The cases resulted in long prison terms for their bosses — Cali’s swaggering 1980s-era predecessor John Gotti included — and encouraged their successors to keep a lower profile.

But, the new generation still has engaged in old-school crimes — loansharking, gambling, extortion — that can make enemies and spark bloodshed.

Shea said there has been a slight uptick in alleged mob-related violence in New York within the last year.

But, he said it was too soon to say whether that had anything to do with Cali’s slaying.


Federal prosecutors referred to Cali in court filings in recent years as the underboss of the Mafia’s Gambino family, once one of the most powerful and feared crime organizations in the country. News accounts since 2015 said he had ascended to the top spot.

The last Mafia boss to be rubbed out in New York City was Gambino don “Big Paul” Castellano, assassinated at Gotti’s direction while getting out of a black limousine outside a high-end Manhattan steakhouse in 1985. Gotti then took control of the family.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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