Kerry Burke and John Annese
New York Daily News
Gambino crime family boss Frank (Franky Boy) Cali was gunned down Wednesday night in a gory hit in front of his Staten Island home, police sources said.
Cali, 53, was shot six times in the chest by a gunman in a blue pickup truck on Hilltop Terrace near Four Corners Road in Todt Hill about 9:15 p.m. Medics took him to Staten Island University Hospital, where he died.
A panicked family member called 911, telling a dispatcher Cali was run over before he was shot, though investigators were still looking into whether the gunman mowed the mobster down, sources said.
Police were searching for the pickup truck that raced from the grisly scene, sources said.
“There were like six shots, and then there were three more,” one witness, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the Daily News. “The man was on the ground face-up. His head was by his SUV, and the truck was open.”
Cali’s distraught family members rushed outside after the shooting.
“Papa! Papa!” one man cried before lying on the grass, sobbing, the witness recounted.
One woman yelled into her phone, “Why doesn’t the ambulance come? He’s not breathing!” the witness told The News. Another woman “was just making loud noises,” the witness said.
“The cops came, and they were pushing on his chest, but he wasn’t responding,” the witness said.
A man answering Cali’s wife’s cell phone hung up on a reporter Wednesday night.
Cali, who served on the Gambino family’s ruling panel for several years, was elevated to acting boss in 2015, replacing then 68-year-old Domenico Cefalu.
Cali’s murder recalled the execution of Gambino boss Paul Castellano in 1985, who was ordered shot dead by John Gotti in front of Sparks Steak House, in perhaps the most infamous mob hit in the city’s recent history. Cali lived less than a half-mile away from Castellano’s famous Staten Island mansion on Benedict Road.
Gotti, who took over the Gambino family after Castellano’s shooting, died in prison in 2002. Cefalu reportedly ousted Gotti’s kin to head the Gambino family in 2011.
A native of Sicily, Cali has deep mob roots, and his wife is the niece of Gambino capo John Gambino. His brother Joseph and brother-in-law Peter Inzerillo are reputed Gambino soldiers.
Cali rose quickly through the ranks of organized crime, becoming a powerful capo before the age of 40, less than a decade after he became an inducted member, according to court papers.
Federal authorities tried to put a stop to Cali’s rise in the late 2000s after he completed a 16-month sentence for an extortion scheme connected to a failed bid to build a Nascar track on Staten Island.
After his release, the feds tried to bar him from meeting with members of the Sicilian Mafia, and demanded that he avoid contact with his uncle, Giovanni Gambino — the nephew of late boss Carlo Gambino, for whom the family was named — except at weddings or holiday celebrations approved in advance.
Cali’s killing comes less than a week after the death legendary mobster Carmine Persico, the longtime boss of the Colombo crime family. Persico, 85, was serving a 100-year federal prison sentence after his conviction on racketeering and murder charges in the famous mid-’80s “ Commission trial.”
Persico, whose health had deteriorated over the past few years, was blind in one eye and nearly blind in the other, and needed a wheelchair to get around. He died at the Duke University Medical Center last Thursday.
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