The alleged paid ‘hit man’ who police say killed a well-known Pelham Bayite was identified in a federal Brooklyn court as ex-con Bushawn ‘Shelz’ Shelton on Thursday, November 8.
Shelton allegedly shot 71-year-old Sylvester ‘Sally DAZ’ Zottola to death while he was purchasing coffee at a McDonald’s drive thru lane at 1625 Webster Avenue on Thursday, October 4. He was returning home from a scheduled court appearance for an incident involving the illegal discharging of a weapon during a self-defense situation that had happened two months previous.
According to police, Shelton entered the McDonald’s property through a hole in a fence from an adjacent property, fired multiple 9-millimeter rounds at Zottola before escaping through the same fence opening, and fleeing in a gray sedan. Shelton faces six charges, murder for hire conspiracy being the most severe.
The hit was allegedly ordered by an Albanian crew that was trying to muscle into Sal’s Joker Poker video game business, according to police reports.
At least three earlier violent confrontations had occurred between Zottola and his antagonists before the fatal incident. A few months before the shooting, a still-at-large assailant shot Sal’s son, Sal, Jr., three times outside his home in Locust Point. The wounds were serious, but not life threatening.
For Zottola’s 45-year-old daughter, Debbie Zottola, she simply wants her father remembered in a good and proper light. “He was a good man not a goodfella and he was a wise man not a wiseguy,” she said.
Debbie went on to describe her father as “a true pillar of strength” for the Zottola family.
“He loved us and he loved Pelham Bay,” Debbie said.
For years, ‘Sally DAZ’ ran a much-anticipated, spectacular 4th of July block party on Wilkinson Avenue at Hobart Avenue.
During the event, Sal’s jukeboxes from his company DAZ Entertainment could be heard belting out the ‘Oldies.’
That July extravaganza was later moved to Zottola’s Locust Point property that he along with his son built on the corner of Tierney Place and Longstreet Avenue.
It remained there for some time until the Locust Point community had it halted due to its tremendous popularity and the impact it had on the tiny waterfront neighborhood.
Zottola also constructed rows of well-built attached 2- and 3- family homes on Hobart and Gillespie avenues in the 1990s.
“My father always wanted to give back to the community,” Debbie said.
The grieving daughter went on to talk about the influence that her father had on both herself and her two brothers, Anthony and Sal Jr.
“He was a genuine article of what a true man, father and grandfather should be,” Debbie said. “I am forever grateful for what he taught us. He never once left us alone,” referring to the fact that he was a single dad for a good portion of their adolescent years.
Debbie also discussed the fondness that ‘Sally DAZ’ had for her late mother, Maria. “He spoke of her every day since she passed 32 years ago,” she said.
He was also highly revered in the Pelham Bay community for how he treated people, according to his daughter.
“He found the good in everyone and he always smiled, even when times were difficult he was always smiling,” Debbie said.
The community that ‘Sally DAZ’ loved to serve ended up serving him and the Zottola family one final time.
His Mass of Christian burial was held at St. Theresa’s Church on Tuesday, October 9, a church he had supported throughout his 71-years.
“I am forever grateful for St. Theresa’s parish along with all of the support my family has received from Pelham Bay,” Debbie said. “He’s at peace now, at home with my mom.”