BROOKLYN — A man was arrested for the murder of Louis Barbati, an owner of the popular Spumoni Gardens restaurant who was gunned down outside his Dyker Heights home in June, on Thursday, authorities said.
Andres "Andy" Fernandez was charged with weapons possession and murder Thursday afternoon in Brooklyn Federal Court. He was led into the hearing wearing a black T-shirt, blue jeans and his left arm was covered in tattoos.
Fernandez said he was able to discuss the charges with his lawyer, Avrom, Robin, "but not [for] that long."
Judge Peggy Kuo then ordered him held, but said he could apply for a bail package at a later date.
Barbati's sister, Camille McDonald, was emotional after the proceedings.
"It's scary to live like this," she said outside the courtroom, holding back tears. "It's tough, it really is."
Barbati, 61, was returning home from his restaurant carrying $15,000 in cash from the pizzeria when he was gunned down near the side door of his house at 7601 12th Ave. on June 30.
Police released surveillance video of Fernandez sporting a sweatshirt and jean shorts walking on Barbati's block shortly before the shooting.
FBI Special Agent Chance Adam swore in an affidavit that the footage shows Fernandez hiding behind a tree, across the street from where Barbati's car was parked, wearing dark colored gloves and holding what the feds believe was the murder weapon.
Although the FBI agent specializes in racketeering cases associated with organized crime, there is no indication in Fernandez's criminal complaint that he has mob ties.
Witnesses told investigators that they saw the suspect running away from the murder scene, then drive off in his white, late-model Acura.
Investigators initially believed that the shooting was likely a botched robbery because the killer did not take any of the cash from Barbati’s pockets. He rarely carried that much cash with him, police said. He was shot five times.
Spumoni Garden regulars who visited the eatery to enjoy its legendary square pies and tri-colored spumoni recalled the gregarious Barbati as warm, friendly businessman who enjoyed football, horse racing and was devoted to his family and restaurant.
Barbati was married for 25 years, and had two sons.
Family spokesman, Philip Gregory, said they were "relieved" there has finally been an arrest.
"Lulu was officially in place every day behind the counter, [a] hard working businessman taken obviously too soon," said Gregory, who is also a retired NYPD detective. "We are delighted this criminal was taken off the street and hopefully the community at large maybe can sleep a little bit easier."