Rocco Maniscalco had less than a half-block to walk from the Wolf Street Cafe, where he had been watching Wednesday night's Flyers game, to his South Philadelphia home.

Maniscalco, a 38-year-old father of four, never made it. He was gunned down within sight of his home by an unknown assailant.

He was declared dead at the scene, in the 1700 block of Wolf Street, around 1:20 a.m. Thursday, police said.

Detectives were in the early stages of the investigation and didn't have a motive or any suspect information to release, said Capt. James Clark, commander of the Homicide Unit.

Initial radio dispatches shortly after the shooting described the gunman as a thin, white male wearing a white shirt who fled in a dark SUV.

Detectives marked at least 10 shell casings on the street.

Friends and relatives who were gathered on the steps at the family's home Thursday declined to comment and asked for privacy.

Maniscalco owned New Era Collision, an auto-repair and towing business in an industrial complex at 25th and Wharton Streets.

Angelo Lutz said he met Maniscalco through a friend about a year after finishing a seven-year jail stretch for mob-related gambling and extortion convictions.

Lutz, who also stars in Kitchen Consigliere, an online cooking show on philly.com, said Maniscalco gave him a part-time bookkeeping job when he was down on his luck.

"No one wanted to give me a job . . . I struggled for about a whole year," Lutz said. "He's one of the few people who would help me . . . a great, good-hearted guy."

Lutz said Maniscalco would bring in lunch for his employees every day, then go out in the tow truck answering calls in the afternoon.

None of the other employees wanted to speak Thursday, Lutz said, but the shop was open for business at the insistence of Maniscalco's wife.

"His wife wanted the shop opened up because there's people working here who have to feed their families," he said.

Contact staff writer Troy Graham at 215-854-2730 or tgraham@phillynews.com.