A Staten Island man, after three days on the lam, was busted Saturday for gunning down the boss of the Gambino crime family — with his homicidal rage perhaps fueled by a lingering vendetta.
Suspect Anthony Comello, 24, was arrested down the Jersey Shore for the execution of reputed Mafia kingpin Frank Cali in a fusillade of gunfire outside his Staten Island home, said NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea. The truck used to lure Cali into the line of fire was also recovered in Brick Township, N.J. — about 50 miles from the site of the fatal shooting.
The low-key Cali, who took over as head of the Gambino crime family in 2015, was shot 10 times and left to die behind the rear bumper of his Cadillac Escalade SUV. Comello fled in the truck and headed south to the Garden State town where his family owns a house.
An unspecified bone of contention between the killer and Cali — though not linked to the mob — is an “angle that is being explored” for a motive, a high-ranking NYPD source told the Daily News. A separate source had earlier told The News that the killing “appears” to be unrelated to any Mafia feud.
But Shea declined to provide any detail on what happened prior to the Wednesday night hit in the Todt Hill section.
“Let me reiterate this (investigation) is far from over,” said Shea. “Was he acting alone? Was he acting for other people? Were others involved? What was the motive? I do not have all the answers for you.”
Staten Island Judge Charles Troia signed off an arrest warrant specifying that Comello will be charged with murder, assault and weapons possession upon his return to Staten Island. Authorities need to extradite the murder suspect back from the Ocean County Jail in New Jersey.
Neighbors of the murder suspect were stunned by Comello’s arrest.
“I never saw anything bad about him,” said Ken Taft, 65. “This is a total surprise. All the neighbors are in complete shock. I’ve know him since he was a little boy.”
Neighbor Victor Ujeck agreed: “He was a nice guy. When I heard the news I thought this must have been some kind of mistake. It’s just sinking in now.”
According to Shea, police spoke with Comello several times before he lawyered up and stopped cooperating.
Asked about the suspect’s criminal record, Shea said that Comello received a parking ticket just hours before Cali’s murder. The police official declined to discuss any relationship between the mob boss and his alleged killer.
“We are all aware of Mr. Cali’s past,” said Shea. “That will be part of the investigation.”
The suspect’s fingerprint was lifted from Cali’s car — possibly off the license plate of the mobster’s Cadillac, a source told The News.
The Sicilian-born mobster known as Franky Boy walked into an ambush when the murderer staged a car crash, plowing a pickup truck into the SUV parked outside Cali’s house around 9:15 p.m. Wednesday night, cops said.
When Cali, 53, left his family at the dinner table to investigate, the truck driver jumped from the vehicle and opened fire — pumping 10 bullets into the doomed boss.
The killing marked the city’s first murder of a sitting mob boss since the December 1985 hit on Gambino boss Paul (Big Paul) Castellano, who lived in the same Todt Hill neighborhood where Cali was targeted.
With Rikki Reyna and Rocco Parascandola