NY media say it is the first killing of a family boss in the city since the Gambino family's Paul Castellano was shot dead outside a restaurant in 1985 on the orders of John Gotti.
Witnesses said Cali's killer shot him at least six times and then ran him over before fleeing the scene. Another witness told the Daily News: "The man was on the ground face-up".
No arrests have been made in the shooting, and an investigation is ongoing, police said. His head was by his SUV, and the truck was open'.
Cali, who allegedly served as a leader of the Gambino crime family, was transported by EMS in critical condition to Staten Island University Hospital in Ocean Breeze where he was pronounced dead. He died in prison in 2002. The Daily Beast noted, "Cali's home is a two-minute drive from where one of his predecessors, late Gambino boss Paul Castellano, lived in an ostentatious mansion dubbed the White House until he was executed outside Sparks Steak House in Manhattan in 1985".
A law enforcement official confirmed to CNN that the victim was a high-ranking member of the Gambino crime family and is believed to be the acting boss.More news: Beto O'Rourke leaps into 2020 Democratic presidential race
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Cali's only criminal conviction came from an extortion charge in 2008 for trying to shake down a trucker; he spent 16 months in prison.
He also had close ties through marriage to the Inzerillo family in Palermo, Sicily, having married Rosaria Inzerillo, a sister of Pietro Inzerillo and a relative of Gambino associate Frank Inzerillo.
His murder was orchestrated by John Gotti in a power move that would see him become head of the family, according to testimony by mafia underboss Salvatore Gravano.
NY media say it is the first targeted killing of a mob boss in the city since 1985.
He 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.
In June 2008, Cali pleaded guilty to conspiring to extort money and was jailed in Brooklyn, before being released the following year.