Thirty years ago Wednesday, shots rang out in front of Sparks Steak House in Midtown, leaving then-Gambino crime boss Paul Castellano dead in the gutter, and signaling the rise to power of John Gotti who would soon become the most famous gangster in America.
It was also a development, according to mob experts, that ultimately speeded up the demise of the five mob families in New York City.
"It was one of the most singular acts that altered the existence of the New York Mafia," said Phil Scala the retired head of the FBI squad that investigated the Gambino family.
"John Gotti took the La Cosa Nostra rulebook and shot it full of holes on East 46th St. and Third Ave.," Scala said.
Gotti and his crew of hand-picked assassins wearing Russian-type fur hats, were carrying out the ultimate power play — killing the boss of their family -- without the permission or blessing of the heads of the Genovese, Colombo, Luchese, and Bonanno families.