What to Know
Louis Barbati co-owned the popular pizza and ice cream shop L&B Spumoni Gardens
He was found shot twice outside his home
Neighbors said they heard gunfire and screaming
The owner of the famed Spumoni Gardens restaurant in Brooklyn was shot and killed outside his home while holding a bag containing a large amount of cash, but the money wasn't taken, police say.
Louis Barbati, 61, was found shot twice in the torso in his backyard in Dyker Heights on 12th Avenue at about 7 p.m.
Police said he had just returned home from work and was in his backyard when someone fired at him. Barbati's family was in the house at the time, and neighbors said they heard gunfire and screaming.
"His wife was screaming that he got shot and was looking for help, so we called 911," said neighbor Imran Arshad.
Bullet holes were still visible in the white fence on the side of the house Friday.
"We believe there was a person waiting for him, at which time he approached him at the rear of the home," NYPD Chief of Detectives Bob Boyce said Friday. "Shots were fired, five shots, all striking him. The perp ran off."
Police said Barbati had a bag of cash with him, but the gunman did not take the money. Still, investigators are investigating botched robbery as a possible motive. They're looking for a gunman believed to be in his 30s and wearing a black hooded sweatshirt.
Barbati co-owned the popular pizza and ice cream shop L&B Spumoni Gardens, and neighbors said he was kind and respectful. Barbati took over the family business, started in 1938 by his grandfather, Italian immigrant Ludovico Barbati. The restaurant is in its fourth generation of family ownership, according to its website.
"There's a sea of lore and legend about the place," said NYPD Chief of Detectives Bob Boyce, addressing rumors about whether the business was tied to some sort of mob extortion case several years ago.
"We've found that [Barbati] has always been a regular citizen with no issues, he's never been arrested. No issues at all," said Boyce. "There were recipe things going on a couple years ago, but we don't believe that has nothing to do with this right now."
Boyce said Barbati owned the restaurant with his two sisters.
Spumoni's has long been an institution in Brooklyn, known especially for its pizza "sheets" -- thick-crusted, rectangular Sicilian pizzas in upside-down style, according to Eater NY.
The pizzeria has also been featured on several food shows.
Spumoni's family posted a statement on the restaurant's Facebook page Friday, saying: "To our friends, fans and loyal patrons, As we mourn the abrupt and heartbreaking loss of our beloved Louis, we appreciate the outpouring of overwhelming support and goodwill during these hardest of times. The family respectfully wishes for privacy to grieve."
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams tweeted Thursday night: "Brooklyn mourns the fatal shooting of Spumoni Gardens co-owner Louis Barbati in Dyker Heights, another senseless victim of gun violence."