In the wake of Thursday night's shooting of Louis Barbati, the owner of the famed Gravesend pizzeria L&B Spumoni Gardens, more details are emerging on the circumstances surrounding his death: police are now saying that the shooting may have been a botched robbery, as it appears Barbati was carrying a substantial amount of cash that was still on his person when his body was found.
Police said yesterday that Barbati got off work at about 6:30 p.m. yesterday and drove home, but was shot while walking from his car to his home. He was apparently carrying a bag with a loaf of bread and about $10,000 in cash.
But the shooter, who neighbors described as a white male, didn't take any of that cash. Barbati's wife told the police that her husband would bring home that amount in cash about six times a year, ABC reported.
"It was a botched robbery," NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said yesterday. "That is our thinking right now...Mr. Barbati does not normally carry that amount of money. That, along with the perp waiting for him to pull up and approach him there."
Then there's the matter of the rivalry between L&B Spumoni Gardens and a competing Staten Island pizzeria opened by Eugene Lombardo, a former employee of L&B, who was believed to have copied L&B's tomato sauce recipe. In 2009, charges were brought against Francis Guerra, an alleged Colmobo mobster who was related to an L&B owner through marriage, after Guerra allegedly threatened Lombardo. Those charges were dropped in 2012.
The New York Times reports that police are still trying to figure out whether that feud could have played a part in Barbati's death.
Meanwhile, Barbati's community mourned him yesterday, visiting his home to pay respects. Spumoni Gardens sent a stack of pizza pies over to feed the deluge of visitors, the Daily News reports. His cousin remembered him as someone who "never had an unkind word to anyone, nor his family. Always had a smile. And this is the end he got, unfortunately."
The Barbati family has been asking for privacy during this difficult time: staff at the pizzeria apparently shooed away reporters yesterday, and a press conference on the incident scheduled yesterday by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams was later cancelled, reportedly out of respect for the family's wishes.
In a statement posted to Spumoni Gardens's website, the family said that "as we mourn the abrupt and heartbreaking loss of our beloved Louis we appreciate the outpouring of overwhelming support and good will during these hardest of times. The family respectfully wishes for privacy to grieve."