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Father of State Assemblyman Found Slain

The father of state Assemblyman Mike Gatto was shot and killed, possibly while interrupting a burglary, at his home in Silver Lake on Nov. 14.

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A police raid seeking probation violators in the Silver Lake area on Thursday morning was prompted by the continuing search for the killer of an assemblyman’s father, multiple sources have told KTLA.

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Aerial video showed officers at multiple locations, including this one on Hyperion Avenue, in the Silver Lake area on Jan. 9, 2014. (Credit: KTLA)

Dozens of officers were targeting ex-convicts with links to past burglaries as part of an effort to find links to a violent home-invasion that left 78-year-old Joseph Gatto, father of Assemblyman Mike Gatto, dead in his Silver Lake home on Nov. 13, 2013.

On Tuesday, authorities had announced a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for the death of Gatto, who was found fatally shot in the stomach.

Gatto, a well-regarded former art educator, was also a maker of fine jewelry. Police had previously asked the public for help finding jewelry that could have been stolen from his home on Bright Lane.

At the site of one of the addresses raided Thursday, a resident said police had handed out a flyer showing Gatto’s face and listing the $50,000 reward.

Multiple Los Angeles Police Department sources said off the record that the probation raid was a way to net multiple arrests and search for clues related to finding Gatto’s killer.

Aerial video showed dozens of officers approaching homes in multiple locations.

LAPD spokesman Richard French did not confirm a connection, only saying that “a bunch of officers” were out in various locations in Los Angeles on Thursday morning “trying to find parole violators.” French did not know how many people were arrested during the operation.

A message left for Lt. Walter Teague with Robbery-Homicide Division, who had confirmed the connection on the record to a radio station, was not immediately returned.

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LAPD released this flyer describing a man who pointed a gun at a woman in Silver Lake on the night Joseph Gatto was shot to death nearby. (Credit: LAPD)

Shortly after Gatto’s death, police released a sketch of a man who they said could be linked to the slaying.

On the night Gatto died, a woman said she was threatened by a man with a gun who appeared to be trying to break into cars in the area near Gatto’s home — an affluent neighborhood next to Silver Lake Reservoir.

That man’s sketch was shown again during a news conference Tuesday at which LAPD, Mayor Eric Garcetti and other officials announced the $50,000 reward.

Anyone with information about this killing has been asked to contact LAPD Detectives Barry Telis or Chris Gable at 213-486-5910. During off-hours, calls may be directed to 877-527-3247.

Those wishing to remain anonymous may call 800-222-8477.  Tipsters may also text 274637 with a cell phone, beginning the message with “LAPD,” or go lapdonline.org and click on “Anonymous Web Tips.”

KTLA’s Christina Pascucci and Melissa Pamer contributed to this report. 

Los Angeles authorities announced a $50,000 reward Tuesday for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the person or people who killed the 78-year-old father of a state assemblyman.

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Joseph Gatto, right, is seen alongside his son Mike Gatto at the assemblyman’s swearing-in ceremony in 2010. This photo was originally posted on Mike Gatto’s Facebook page.

Joseph Gatto, a well-respected art educator and jewelry-maker, was found Nov. 13 fatally shot in his home in an affluent area of Silver Lake. He was the father of Assemblyman Mike Gatto, whose 43rd Assembly District includes part of Silver Lake.

Detectives have not been able to identify suspects or witnesses in the killing, according to an LAPD news release.

At a 2 p.m. news conference at LAPD headquarters, authorities said they hoped a $50,000 reward would help solve the case.

“If you know something, my family begs you to come forward,” Mike Gatto said at the news conference. “My father gave so much to our community, and now we must turn to the community for help in solving his murder.”

Mayor Eric Garcetti said officials “will not rest” until Joseph Gatto’s killer is apprehended.

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A sketch was released in November of a man possibly connected to the Gatto slaying. (Credit: LAPD)

Police initially reported that a woman was threatened by a man near Joseph Gatto’s home on the night he was shot, and investigators suspected the two crimes could be related. The Los Angeles Police Department had released a sketch of the man, who had pointed a gun at a woman who confronted him, threatening to kill her. He had been seen breaking into a car, police said.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck on Tuesday asked for the public’s help in identifying the man and in coming forward with information about thefts from vehicles in the Silver Lake area.

In early December, police asked for the public’s help searching for possibly stolen pieces of jewelry made by Gatto that might have been pawned.

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Police provided these images of jewelry made by Joseph Gatto.

Police said Gatto had been killed by a single gunshot wound approximately 24 hours before his daughter found him on the evening of Nov. 13 in the 2800 block of Bright Lane, near Silver Lake Reservoir.

Gatto’s death had been described as part of a home invasion robbery.

Beck said he would not release details on whether the crime had specifically targeted Joseph Gatto or was random.

Anyone with information was asked to call LAPD Robbery Homicide  Detectives Barry Telis or Chris Gable at 213-486-5910.

During off-hours, calls may be directed to 877-527-3247. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous may call 800-222-8477. Tipsters may also text 274637, beginning the message with the letters “LAPD,” or go to lapdonline.org and click on “Anonymous Web Tips.”

KTLA’s Sara Welch contributed to this report.

Police were asking for the public’s help Thursday finding pieces of jewelry that may have been made by Joseph Gatto, the father of a state assemblyman, who had been found shot to death last month in his Silver Lake home.

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Police provided these images of jewelry made by Joseph Gatto.

The 78-year-old Gatto was discovered having been shot in the abdomen on Nov. 13 at his home in the 2800 block of Bright Lane, in an affluent area of Los Angeles with a low rate of violent crime. His death was ruled a homicide.

A beloved longtime arts teacher and jewelry-maker, Gatto was the father of Assemblyman Mike Gatto and two other children.

Hundreds of people attended a Nov. 25 funeral service for Joseph Gatto, who had founded the visual arts department of the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and had mentored many artists.

His home was found ransacked, and police had said they were exploring the possibility that Gatto was killed during a home-invasion robbery.

On Thursday, the Los Angeles Police Department’s Northeast Station sent out a community alert asking for helping finding jewelry that had been made by Gatto for sale at area pawn shops.

“Mr. Gatto was a craftsman who created ornate, custom-made, jewelry pieces (rings, bracelets, pendants, and necklaces) using precious metals, stones, bone, ivory, porcelain, glass, wood and Egyptian scarabs,” the LAPD alert read. “Mr. Gatto engraved many of his pieces with his initials and name ‘J A Gatto’ along with a circular design.”

Detectives were looking for any pieces that had been purchased or sold by pawn shops.

Police had released a sketch of a man who was seen breaking into a vehicle the night before Gatto was shot in the same neighborhood. The man pointed a gun at a woman who confronted him and threatened to kill her, then issuing a similar threat to another witness who confronted him, according to police.

Anyone with information about the jewelry was asked to call Robbery-Homicide Division Detectives Telis or Gable at 213-486-6890 during business hours, or LAPD Realtime Analysis & Critical Response Division at 213-484-6700, 24 hours a day.

Joseph Gatto was remembered as a loving father and inspiring art teacher at a ceremony on Monday, nearly two weeks after the 78-year-old was found fatally shot in his Silver Lake home.

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Joseph Gatto was memorialized Monday, Nov. 25, 2013.

The funeral for Gatto, the father of Assemblyman Mike Gatto, was held at Our Mother of Good Counsel Catholic Church in Los Feliz. Gatto died Nov. 13.

A U.S. Army veteran, Joseph Gatto’s casket was draped in the American flag.

“We celebrate Mr. Gatto’s life, a life that was filled with so much love, and his ability to teach and touch so many art students, and also reflect on how much of a loving husband, father, grandfather he was,” said Los Angeles Councilman Joe Buscaino, a friend of the Gatto family, outside the funeral.

Joseph Gatto founded the visual arts department of Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, retiring in 2002 after more than 45 years as a teacher there and at multiple universities and art schools in the Los Angeles region.

At one point during Monday’s event, Mike Gatto asked those in the audience who had been taught by his father to stand up. Nearly half of the hundreds gathered rose from their seats.

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Joseph Gatto’s casket is wheeled away outside the funeral. (Credit: KTLA)

“I just remember him pushing us really hard, being super honest even though it hurt, having us believe in ourselves,” former student Jesus Chaidez said.

Gatto’s daughter found him shot in the abdomen in his ransacked home in the 2800 block of Bright Lane (map) in an exclusive part of Los Angeles’s Silver Lake neighborhood, near a heavily used walking path around two reservoirs.

“It’s been very hard. It was very sudden,” Mike Gatto said last week, when police released the sketch of a man who could be linked to the slaying.

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Assemblyman Mike Gatto is embraced outside the church. (Credit: KTLA)

“We didn’t get a chance to say goodbye,” Mike Gatto said. “My father was in his late 70s, but he was going to live forever. He was so healthy. It was just so unexpected. It’s very hard for the grandkids.”

Joseph Gatto is survived by two brothers, three children, three grandchildren and his ex-wife.

A private reception and graveside burial for family and close friends were slated to follow the 10 a.m. funeral.

In lieu of flowers, the Gatto family requests donations be sent to one of three charities:

  • The Historic Italian Hall Foundation (125 Paseo De la Plaza, Suite 400, Los Angeles, CA 90012; 213-485-8432)
  • The Los Angeles Community Garden Council (4470 W. Sunset Blvd. #381, Los Angeles, CA 90027; 323-942-WORM)
  • or, The Tuition Magician, Attn: Joe Gatto Arts Scholarship (4470 West Sunset Blvd. #378, Los Angeles, CA 90027).

KTLA’s Christina Pascucci contributed to this report.

Police on Tuesday released a sketch of  a man sought in connection with an assault that occurred in Silver Lake just blocks from the house where the father of  State Assemblyman Mike Gatto was found slain the next day.

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Sketch released of suspect possibly connected to Gatto slaying. (Credit: Los Angeles Police Department)

A community alert notification released by the LAPD states that the assault suspect maybe connected to a homicide at the home of 78-year-old Joseph Gatto.

The man was suspected in an assault against a woman who confronted him trying to break into a vehicle in the 2300 block of Moreno Drive, the flier stated.

The man pointed a gun at the woman “and threatened to kill her,” according to the flier.

Gatto’s body was discovered by his daughter the next day in his Silver Lake home located a few blocks from the scene of the assault.

The 78-year-old was found slumped over a desk and had been shot once in the abdomen, said Lt. Richard Parks of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Gatto’s home was found ransacked, according to police, leading them to explore the possibility that he may have been shot during a home-invasion robbery.

After conducting an autopsy, physicians have officially ruled the death of California Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s father as a homicide, the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner said.

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The late Joseph Gatto (right) stands with his son, 43rd District Assemblyman Mike Gatto, at the younger Gatto’s swearing-in ceremony in 2010. (Credit: Assemblyman Mike Gatto/via Facebook)

The coroner’s examination, which took place midday Friday, determined that Joseph Gatto, 78, died of a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

Gatto’s body was first discovered by his daughter Wednesday night in his Silver Lake home when she went to check on him.

The victim was found slumped over a desk and had been shot once, said Lt. Richard Parks of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Gatto’s home was found ransacked, according to police, leading them to explore the possibility that he may have been shot during a home-invasion robbery.

No information about possible suspects had been released.

Gatto was an art teacher at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and worked as a jewelry craftsman in his later years.

KTLA’s Liberte Chan contributed to this report.

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.

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Assemblyman Mike Gatto, center, is seen with his father, Joseph Gatto, who was found shot to death Wednesday at his Silver Lake home. (Credit: Assemblyman Mike Gatto/via Facebook)

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.

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