NY media reported that 53-year-old Cali was shot multiple times outside his auto on Staten Island on Wednesday evening, local time, by an unidentified man who then fled the scene in a blue vehicle. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, an NYPD official told HuffPost.
Witnesses told New York Daily News "there were like six shots, and then there were three more".
It's more than three decades since the last hit on a boss of one of the five families, but Cali's murder is a reminder that - at least as far as the rest of us know - the Mafia really did split up NY into five territories, and continues to operate that way despite huge numbers of arrests over the years.
Probably the best publicly available explanation of the arrangement of New York's five families is in the 2005 book Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires.
While imprisoned, John Gotti never betrayed the mafia code of silence known as Omerta, which allowed the Gambino family to remain operational.
Shea said there has been a slight uptick in alleged mob-related violence in NY within the a year ago.
On Wednesday, hours before Cali was killed, the reputed boss and consigliere of the Bonanno crime family were acquitted in a Brooklyn racketeering and extortion case.
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Cali is thought to have taken the helm of the Gambino family in 2015, replacing Domenico Cefalu.
The Gambino family was once among the most powerful criminal organizations in the USA, but federal prosecutions in the 1980s and 1990s sent Gotti and other top leaders to prison, diminishing its reach.
Gambino headed the organization until 1976, when he handed power over to his brother-in-law Paul Castellano.
Detective Shea said that Cali's Cadillac SUV, which was parked outside the home, was struck resulting in him rushing outside to investigate. On April 6, 2009 he was released from prison.
He began ascending within the ranks under capo John D'Amico, who went by Jackie and became the family's acting boss in 2005 - after which Cali became an acting captain, according to court documents. "But I guess old habits die hard". Sylvester Zottola, 71, reportedly of the Bonanno crime family, was gunned down at a McDonald's drive thru in the Bronx last October, according to WABC.
In another burst of mob drama, authorities announced Thursday that a Gambino family associate of over a decade, Anthony Pandrella, was arrested for robbing and murdering his friend Vincent Zito. Paul Castellano also owned a home there.