Gambino crime boss slain outside Staten Island home

The body of former mob boss John Gotti is carried from Papavero Funeral Home in the Queens borough of New York 15 June 2002

The circumstances preceding the shooting weren't immediately known, but police say they're looking for a blue pickup truck that fled the scene.

Police responding to a 911 call about an assault in progress just after 9.15pm arrived to find 53-year-old Cali with six gunshot wounds to the torso.

Cali was rushed to Staten Island University North Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Cali was said to have strong ties to the Sicilian Mafia, and experts suggested his ascension to the top spot about four years ago was part of an attempt by the Gambinos to lower their high-profile image created by former godfather John Gotti.

United States media reported the 53-year-old´s death marked the first murder of a NY mob boss in 34 years, since the death of Paul Castellano - another Gambino family boss - by order of John Gotti.

This is a breaking story.

Gotti died of cancer in prison in 2002. Witnesses told NY media outlets that they heard a number of shots before a blue pickup truck fled the area.

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A law enforcement official confirmed to CNN that the victim was a high-ranking member of the Gambino organized crime family and is believed to be the acting boss.

Gambino headed the organization until 1976, when he handed power over to his brother-in-law Paul Castellano.

Meanwhile, Cali's brother-in-law, Pietro (Tall Pete) Inzerillo, was a "well-documented solider" in the Gambino family, Probation wrote.

At one time, the notorious Boston mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger was one of the most wanted criminals in America.

Cali's demeanor, while he was alive, was completely unlike the manner John Gotti conducted himself, the latter an extravagant and ostentatious mobster the Mob hadn't seen since the days of Al Capone.

A Brooklyn native who catered to immigrants and descendants of his parents' native Sicily, Cali became a capo before turning 40, barely a decade before he was "made" - considered by many to be a swift rise, federal authorities said.

Last October, 71-year-old Sylvester Zottola of the Bonanno family was shot dead while waiting in his auto for an order from a Bronx McDonald's. The 85-year-old was serving a 100-year federal prison sentence after his conviction on racketeering and murder charges in the famous mid-'80s "Commission trial".

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