Brooklyn, NY – A gunman, lying in wait and dressed in black, shot and killed the owner of the famed L&B Spumoni Gardens pizza restaurant in Brooklyn after the victim arrived home from work carrying a large amount of cash, a police official said Friday.
Investigators suspect Louis Barbati was killed Thursday night in the backyard of his house in Dyker Heights by a bandit who knew about the money, Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce told reporters following a police academy graduation ceremony at Madison Square Garden.
The shooter fired five rounds, then fled on foot empty-handed in what appeared to be a botched robbery, Boyce said. The suspect was still being sought.
“Nothing else has come up as a motive other than robbery right now,” Boyce said when asked about a row over red sauce that’s part of the restaurant’s lore.
The restaurant, run by Barbati’s family for four generations, has been featured on several food shows. It is known for its Sicilian pies.
It also gained notoriety from testimony at the 2012 trial of a reputed Colombo organized crime family associate. A mob turncoat claimed that the defendant, who had married into the L&B family, flew into a rage when he became suspicious that a Staten Island pizzeria with alleged ties to a rival Mafia family stole a red sauce recipe.
The witness testified that as payback, the Colombos plotted to extort $75,000 from the owner of the Staten Island eatery. He said the owner ended up paying only $4,000 to settle the dispute.
Neighbors of Barbati’s reported hearing several shots around 7 p.m. Thursday. His family found him dead from gunshot wounds to his torso.
Police were searching for the gunman believed to be in his 30s and wearing a black hoodie. Boyce said investigators were reviewing videotape from security cameras in the surrounding area to try to identify him.