A 24-year-old Staten Island man was arrested Saturday in the shooting death of a reputed Gambino crime family boss, and investigators reportedly believe the murder of Francesco Cali outside his home was a domestic incident and not a mob slaying.
Anthony Comello was apprehended in New Jersey Saturday on charges that he shot Cali 10 times outside the alleged mobster’s Staten Island home.
“The investigation is far from over. We do not believe this is a random act,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said Saturday. “We are well aware of Mr. Cali’s past. That will be a part of this investigation as we determine what was the motive for the incident on Wednesday evening.”
While the gruesome nature of the murder and the victim suggested it was a mob hit – Cali was the first mafia don to be murdered since Paul Castellano in 1985 – the New York Post reported that Comello was not a mobster and instead someone who had some sort of relationship with a female member of Cali’s family, reportedly his niece.
Comello was tracked down in part because of his pickup truck that was seen on surveillance footage near the murder. The truck rammed into another vehicle outside Cali’s house, which lured the mobster outside the home. Comello also reportedly left his fingerprints on a license plate he handed to Cali moments before the shooting; Comello had no criminal history but was in a database after he was fingerprinted for a rifle permit.
Police later found the damaged pickup truck outside Comello’s parents’ house. He was arrested without incident early Saturday morning at the family’s shore home in Brick, New Jersey. Comello reportedly confessed to the Cali murder and is awaiting extradition back to New York.
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“This went from the perfect crime to amateur hour,” a law enforcement source told the Post. “Anthony Comello will go down in the record books as being one of the dumbest killers in New York City history, if not in the U.S. and the world. Not to mention that the victim was the head of the Gambino crime family.”