What we know about Anthony Comello, the accused mob boss killer arrested in N.J.Updated 10:34 AM; Today 8:20 AM
Questions are swirling around the man arrested in New Jersey early Saturday on charges he shot and killed the reputed boss of the Gambino crime family right outside his Staten Island home.
Anthony Comello, 24, was arrested at a home in Brick and faces a murder charge in the fatal shooting of Francesco Cali, officials said. Comello is being held at the Ocean County jail while he awaits extradition to Staten Island.
Cali, 53, who also went by “Frank” or “Franky Boy,” was shot 10 times with a 9mm handgun Wednesday night outside his home in the Hilltop Terrace section of Staten Island.
The brazen killing was the first slaying in more than 30 years of a New York City crime boss.
While the motive for the killing remains unclear, preliminary information suggests it might not be related to organized crime, according to The New York Times. The report, however, noted that an official cautioned that determination, saying it was still early in the investigation.
In a news conference on Saturday, New York Police Department Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said investigators will be asking whether the alleged shooter was acting alone or working for other people.
Shea said there was “extensive video footage” recovered from the house where the shooting occurred.
According to The New York Times, at about 9:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Comello backed his pickup truck into Cali’s parked Cadillac Escalade, then walked up to the door of his home and rang the doorbell, showing himself on video cameras.
“We have an individual come up; there is an altercation with the vehicle in front. We still do not know whether that was a ploy or whether that was an accident,” Shea said.
Shortly after, Comello fired on Cali, hitting him 10 times.
The truck Comello was driving was recovered when he was arrested in New Jersey on Saturday, Shea said. The gun, however, has yet to be found.
Shea said fingerprints were found on Cali’s vehicle, which he said will be compared with Comello’s at some point.
Man arrested in N.J. for killing of reputed Gambino family mob boss, officials say
A Staten Island man has been arrested for the killing of Francisco Cali.
“On the victim’s car that was present at the murder scene that night, we believe we have fingerprints recovered from that vehicle, as well as other places,” Shea said.
An official told NJ Advance Media that Comello has family in Brick, which is where authorities arrested him on Saturday.
During the news conference, however, Shea wouldn’t confirm any specific addresses.
The Staten Island Advance reported Comello resided on a quiet Eltingville street in Staten Island. His neighbors told the media outlet he was a “good kid” and a “nice guy.”
“It’s a quiet neighborhood. I only spoke with him in passing when we stopped to say hello,” Victor Ujeck, a neighbor of Comello, told Staten Island Advance. “I was shocked; I never would have expected him to have done this. He’s a nice guy, always asking how’s the family?”
Neighbors call man arrested in connection with mob boss Francesco Cali murder a ‘good kid,’ ‘nice guy’
Anthony Comello, 24, a Staten Island resident, was apprehended in New Jersey and taken into custody.
Though Comello has no criminal history, Shea said that he “has crossed paths in some limited circumstances with the NYPD,” in the past, mainly involving his driving record.
“In fact, the day of the incident, his truck received a parking summons in Staten Island,” Shea said.
The Times said in recent years Comello also drew the attention of authorities after acting strangely in a federal courthouse — behavior so odd that he was briefly taken into custody and investigated for any potential history of terroristic threats. The report said, however, there weren’t any further details about his behavior in the courthouse.
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn had referred to Cali in court filings in recent years as the underboss of the Gambino organization, related through marriage to the Inzerillo clan in the Sicilian Mafia.
Multiple press accounts since 2015 said Cali had ascended to the top spot in the gang, although he never faced a criminal charge saying so.
His only mob-related criminal conviction came a decade ago when Cali pleaded guilty in an extortion conspiracy involving a failed attempt to build a NASCAR track on Staten Island. He was sentenced to 16 months in federal prison and was released in 2009.
The last crime family boss to be shot in New York City was Paul Castellano. The Gambino crime boss was assassinated outside Sparks Steakhouse in Manhattan in 1985.
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.
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