The father of state Assemblyman Mike Gatto was shot and killed, possibly while interrupting a burglary, at his home in Silver Lake on Wednesday night, police said.
Firefighters were called about 8:15 p.m. to conduct a death investigation at a residence in the 2800 block of Bright Lane (map), where they found the body of Joseph Gatto, 78, slumped over at a desk, according to Lt. Richard Parks of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Mike Gatto said his sister had gone to the house after she hadn’t heard from their father on Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“She went over there and found him dead,” he told The Times.
An investigation determined that Joseph Gatto had been shot at least once in the abdomen, Parks said. He was pronounced dead at the scene, which is in an area of million-dollar homes next to a popular walking path around the Silver Lake and Ivanhoe reservoirs.
Mike Gatto, the victim’s son, represents the state’s 43rd District, which includes Atwater Village, Burbank, Glendale, Hollywood, Los Feliz, and Silver Lake. He was in Sacramento on Wednesday night when he learned of his father’s death and was “absolutely devastated,” said Justin Hager, the assemblyman’s communications director.
Family friend Lauren Wayne described Joseph Gatto as a “community person” who was a “loving grandpa and a wonderful dad to his three children.” Her best friend is Gatto’s daughter, who will be getting married in May, Wayne said.
“He won’t be there to walk her down the aisle,” Wayne said. “This is senseless and brutal and I don’t understand.”
Mike Gatto was expected to arrive in Los Angeles sometime Thursday, Hager said, adding that the legislator was grateful to members of the Los Angeles Police Department for their “kindness and thoroughness.”
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, who also lives in Silver Lake, issued a statement saying his prayers are with the Gatto family.
“This tragedy is devastating to them and is of concern to the entire community. I’ve spoken with Chief Beck and the LAPD is conducting an aggressive investigation,” Garcetti said.
Gov. Jerry Brown also issued a statement extending sympathy and condolences to the Gatto family.
Investigators remained at the scene early Thursday, police said, and were looking into the possibility that the elder Gatto was shot during a home-invasion robbery.
No information about possible suspects was immediately available, Parks said.
Before he retired, Joseph Gatto was an art teacher at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. He worked as a jewelry maker in his retirement.
Check back for updates on this developing story.