What to Know
- A 44-year-old Long Island man has been convicted of murder in the ambush killing of famed Spumoni Gardens pizzeria owner Louis Barbati
- Barbati was shot multiple times outside his home when he arrived there after work around 7 p.m. on June 30, 2016
- He had $15,483 cash in a bag with him at the time, but it wasn't taken; investigators suspected the shooting was part of a botched robbery attempt
A 44-year-old man has been convicted of murder and other crimes for shooting the owner of Brooklyn's famed Spumoni Gardens restaurant in an ambush attack outside his own home more than two years ago.
Andres Fernandez, of Melville, Long Island, was found guilty last week of second-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession in the June 30, 2016 killing of 61-year-old Louis Barbati. It was that evening, around 7 p.m., that Barbati was in his yard, having just returned from work, when Fernandez opened fire. Barbati was shot multiple times and died.
He had a large amount of cash -- $15,483 -- on him at the time, but the money wasn't taken.
According to trial testimony, Fernandez, wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses, had gone to the area of Barbati's home on 12th Avenue in Dyker Heights about an hour before the victim got there. He waited.
Barbati got home, parked his car and got out. Fernandez then walked across the street and fired five rounds, then fled on foot empty-handed in what appeared to be a botched robbery, police have said. Evidence showed Fernandez had been at Barbati's Gravesend restaurant earlier in the day.
Barbati's family was in the house at the time he was killed; 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 as investigators canvassed the scene for days. Fernandez, who was identified by witnesses as the shooter, was arrested by federal authorities after a large-scale investigation months later, on Nov. 3, 2016.
He faces 25 years to life in prison when he is sentenced in January.
Barbati co-owned the popular pizza and ice cream shop L&B Spumoni Gardens, and neighbors said he was kind and respectful. He 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.
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. It has also been featured on food shows.
"This defendant has been brought to justice for the murder of a beloved husband, father and fixture of the Gravesend community," Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said in a statement. "I commend the jury for its hard work convicting this defendant, and for bringing some solace to the family, friends and many Brooklynites affected by this senseless tragedy.”