BROOKLYN (PIX11) — Emergency 911 calls played at the federal trial of Anthony Zottola, who’s accused of hiring the Bloods gang to kill his mob-connected father, reveal a McDonald’s manager witnessed the murder through the drive-thru window.
“Somebody got shot in the parking lot,” the manager said to the 911 operator on Oct. 4, 2018. “We were just taking care of customers.”
The victim was Sylvester Zottola, 71, and he was ordering a cup of coffee at the Webster Avenue McDonald’s near Belmont Street in the Bronx. The suspects used multiple cars to pin his vehicle in. A GPS device placed on his Acura had led them to the location.
“And I was taking an order when I saw the dude come and shoot the guy,” the manager, a woman, added.
The 911 operator followed up with an urgent question.
“So he’s in the car? Is he dead?” the operator asked.
“It’s an Acura, a burgundy Acura,” the manager said. “Yes! He’s dead.”
Federal prosecutors from the United States Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District said Anthony Zottola hired Bloods leader, Bushawn Shelton, to get together a crew of hitmen who would ultimately target Zottola’s father and his younger brother, Salvatore. The attempted murders that didn’t succeed over the course of the first year–followed by the McDonald’s execution–allegedly cost Anthony Zottola $200,000.
The operation was not a typical mob hit.
The hired killers were not affiliated with a traditional organized crime family. Shelton, who had a “day job” where he wore a shirt and tie, wrote in one text that he was working for a guy that previously hired him to beat up tenants.
Text messages displayed at trial showed this alleged exchange in August 2017 between Anthony Zottola’s phone and Bushawn Shelton’s. The two men allegedly wrote in code:
Shelton: Good morning, pardon for disturbing but do you know if the kids went to camp already this morning. The taxi has been waiting since 8 and they have other fares to pick up.
Anthony Zottola: At camp already. Try on Monday for sure.
More than 10 alleged Bloods members have been introduced in evidentiary photos at trial. Nine of them were charged with murder for hire conspiracy. Bushawn Shelton is among multiple defendants who have already pleaded guilty in the case.
Anthony Zottola’s brother, Salvatore–who survived a July 2018 shooting–has already testified. Prosecutors played one recording where Salvatore Zottola expressed frustration there were no arrests after the series of attacks on his family. His father survived a stabbing at home in December 2017 by three, masked men.
“I’ve been going to the precinct at least once a week,” Salvatore Zottola was heard saying on the recording, “trying to figure out what’s going on. I got nothing!”
Anthony Zottola is on trial with Himan Ross, the alleged McDonald’s shooter, and Alfred Lopez.
Prosecutors said the older son wanted to take over his father’s $45 million real estate portfolio. Defense attorneys are waiting to put on their case, and they’re conducting vigorous cross examination.