On Thursday night, at around 7 p.m., L & B Spumoni Gardens co-owner Louis Barbati was fatally shot five times in the yard of his Dyker Heights home. The police now think that the shooting was possibly a botched robbery attempt, although the shooter didn’t take any jewelry or cash from Barbati. The restaurateur, who was coming home from working at his storied pizzeria, had a plastic bag filled with at least $10,000 in cash. The Daily News notes that the assailant, who was wearing a black hoodie, was scoping out the scene from a black Acura across the street before the shooting. He immediately fled the scene after unloading his gun. On Friday, NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce told the Post: "Nothing else has come up as a motive other than robbery right now."
The police are examining security footage of the incident, and they're interviewing workers at L & B Spumoni Gardens to find out if anything out of the ordinary was going on. A law enforcement official tells the Times: "It’s very confusing about what happened....There’s been this ongoing dispute between him and some other guy who owned this rival joint in Staten Island." He’s referring to The Square, a pizzeria that was opened by reputed Bonanno family associate Eugene Lombardo.
As the story goes, Francis Guerra, an alleged Colombo family associate who was married to one of the L & B co-owners, believed that Lombardo had stolen recipes from the famous Gravesend pizzeria. Guerra and a friend allegedly harassed Lombardo over the purported recipe theft. According to former Colombo capo Anthony Russo, the two parties eventually decided to have a sit-down, wherein Lombardo agreed to give some members of the Colombo family $4,000 to help settle the dispute and move on. Charges were brought against Guerra over the alleged harassment, but they were dropped in 2012.
The Post reports that the Barbati family is offering a $50K reward to help catch the killer. The family held a wake for Louis Barbati yesterday at the Scarpaci Funeral Home. The wake will continue today, and a funeral mass will be held tomorrow. Around 200 people attended the wake on Sunday.
Tony Muia, the proprietor of Slice Pizza Tours, tells the Times: "Lou was basically the face of the place....He was just this big, friendly guy who was always happy. I never saw him without this amazing love for that business."