City leaders and law enforcement officials on Tuesday announced a $50,000 award for information that would lead to the conviction of the individual who shot and killed Joseph Gatto, the father of Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), on Nov. 12.
According to police, the body of Joseph Gatto, 78, was discovered in his Silver Lake home in the 2800 block of Bright Lane after he suffered a single gunshot wound. Investigators believe he was killed 24 hours before he was found.
“My father gave so much to our community, and now we must turn to the community for help in solving his murder,” said Mike Gatto, flanked by family members and city officials at LAPD’s headquarters. “If you know something, my family begs you to come forward. My dad was a beloved father, grandfather and teacher. He didn’t deserve to go out like this. What’s been so hard on the family is no one had a chance to say goodbye. Please help my family obtain justice.”
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said the department has released a sketch of an individual who was involved in a burglary from a vehicle and an assault with a deadly weapon on the same day that Joseph Gatto was murdered — in the same Silver Lake neighborhood.
He said the individual, a Caucasian man between 20 to 25 years old who weighs approximately 180 pounds and is 5 feet 9 inches tall, is considered a person of interest. On the night of the crime, the individual was wearing a multi-colored hooded sweatshirt, tan pants and had a backpack, according to police.
“Detectives would like to speak with him,” Beck said. “He is a person of interest. He is not a defined suspect at this point. We want to find out about any knowledge he might have or any other individual might have regarding Mr. Gatto’s death.”
The chief would not discuss the specifics of the investigation.
“Detectives are very much involved in a manhunt now, and we’re not going to inhibit their investigation by giving out details,” he said.
When asked if officials announced the award because the investigation had reached a standstill, Beck said he is “not un-encouraged by the results” of the investigation thus far.
“This is the time for a reward,” he said. “This is the time for the public to come forward.”
Beck declined to say if the act was random, but said members of the community should be alarmed.
“This is a dangerous individual who I don’t think was a danger solely to Mr. Gatto [and] is still on the loose. This is somebody who needs to be captured and convicted, not just for justice in this case but for the safety of the community, and that’s why people should come forward,” he added.
Mayor Eric Garcetti said Joseph Gatto was an “incredible” man, and his family doesn’t deserve a second punishment — or a second tragedy — by not getting justice. He called on the public to help the family’s suffering come to an end.
“We know that Joseph Gatto was somebody who made this world a better place — for those that he knew and for many that he never met,” he said. “And this has been devastating for the neighborhood in Silver Lake. …So I stand here today to assure the family of Joseph Gatto that we will not rest until we bring his killer in, that we will find this individual and that we will do everything in our power [to find the suspect].”
City Councilman Tom LaBonge, 4th District, authored the motion to create the reward. A friend of the family, he said he hopes that someone comes forward with new details.
“We have to find a conclusion for this, and here in the city of Angels, there is a devil out there. And we want to find that devil and bring him to justice,” he said. “This is a horrible act.”
Mike Gatto’s sisters, Nicole and Mariann Gatto, also addressed the media. Nicole Gatto said the holidays were especially difficult on the family.
“We just want this to be righted, and we appreciate your help with that,” she said.
“Certainly, nothing can ever replace our father, but we want to prevent this tragedy from happening to another family. …Come forward. Do the right thing. Be a hero,” Mariann said.
Mike Gatto said the family would appreciate anyone coming forward with any details that could help the investigation. He said people never know if their information can be helpful. The Assembly member said his father lived near the Silver Lake Reservoir, which draws thousands of people at all hours of the day.
Beck said LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Division is handling the case. He asked people to share any information they might have about the crime, vehicle burglaries in the area or someone trying to sell jewelry with the “distinctive emblem of Mr. Gatto.”
To contact investigators, call (213)486-5910. After hours, individuals can contact the LAPD at (877)527-3247.
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