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24-year-old man to be charged with murder in shooting of Gambino crime boss: police

Posted at 12:43 PM, Mar 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-16 22:26:36-04

NEW YORK — A 24-year-old Staten Island man is expected to face murder charges in the killing of reputed Gambino crime family mob boss, Francesco “Frank” Cali, police said Saturday in a news conference.

Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea announced Saturday afternoon that Anthony Comello of Eltingville, Staten Island, is being held in a New Jersey jail.

Shea said they anticipate Comello will return to Staten Island in the coming days to face murder charges for the fatal shooting.

Shea said Saturday that police investigating if others were involved in the crime and also working to figure out the motive for the shooting, Shea said.

Sources told PIX11 that Comello was interested in dating one of Cali's nieces and was frustrated by Cali's family standing in the way.

Late Saturday night, detectives were inside Comello's home in Staten Island gathering evidence. They were also providing protection for his family, in hopes of preventing any possible retaliation.

"We would be irresponsible if we weren't looking to keep the families involved in this protected, Shea said earlier Saturday.

A neighbor who lives across the street from Comello told PIX11 News he is stunned by the news. "He is a good neighbor, but I never expected this to happen," he said.

Cali, 53, was fatally shot outside his Staten Island home Wednesday night.

Police said Cali was standing outside his white SUV when he was ambushed by a driver in a blue pick-up truck. He was shot six times before reportedly being run over.

The FDNY responded at 9:18 p.m. to a home in the upscale Todt Hill section of Staten Island. The house is listed under the name of Rosaria Inzerillo.

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.

Cali had been considered a unifying figure in the crime family, in the years after John Gotti was convicted and sent to prison by cooperating mob witnesses.

John Gotti's daughter tweeted about the arrest after reports speculated her uncle wanted Cali out of the way.

It had been over 30 years since a New York crime family boss was shot, when Paul Castellano, who owned a mansion on Todt Hill, was executed as he arrived at Sparks Steakhouse in Manhattan.

Whack jobs on mob bosses were common, and they were usually dramatic.

In October 1957, much-feared crime boss, Albert Anastasia, was shot dead when he was settled into his barber chair for a shave at the Park Sheraton Hotel in midtown Manhattan by an assassination team dubbed the "Barbershop Quintet."

Carmine Persico, who later became boss of the Colombo crime family, reportedly told a relative “I killed Anastasia.”

There was also the July 12, 1979 rubout of Bonanno crime family boss Carmine Galante in the backyard of Brooklyn’s Joe & Mary’s Restaurant.

Galante famously lay dead with a cigar hanging out of his mouth, after three masked men walked into the back and fired away. Galante’s bodyguard was also killed, although two other Sicilian bodyguards at the table stood up as the attack began and got away.

Earlier that decade, mob boss Joe Colombo was shot in the head and paralyzed during an Italian American rally at Columbus Circle.

After Castellano and the Colombo mob wars, there wasn't much action for nearly a quarter-century.

Then came 2018 when alleged associates of the Bonanno crime family, the Zottolas, had multiple "hit" attempts on them.

Now the question remains who sanctioned the whacking of this mob boss?

Watch Saturday's full NYPD news conference below: