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Assemblyman Gatto's father shot in home: 'Senseless and brutal'

November 14, 2013|By Ari Bloomekatz and Kate Mather, Los Angeles Times

As Los Angeles police began canvassing the quiet Silver Lake neighborhood for clues about who may have killed Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s father, family friends began arriving at the home to pay their respects.

Lauren Wayne, who said she has known the family for two decades, walked past the row of television cameras and left a small bouquet of red and white flowers near crime scene tape.

“I don’t understand what happened – how it happened,” Wayne told the Los Angeles Times, who described herself as a close friend of one of Joseph Gatto’s three children, Marianna Gatto. ”I don’t understand.”

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“I saw it on the news and I didn’t believe it,” Wayne said. “So I called [Marianna] and she said it was true. It’s like a bad dream.”

Wayne said Marianna Gatto ate dinner with her father every Wednesday night. When the elder Gatto didn’t show up, she and her fiance went to his home in the 2800 block of Bright Lane. They found him slumped over his desk about 8:15 p.m.

Los Angeles police Lt. Richard Parks said the elder Gatto was shot at least once in the chest with a small-caliber handgun and was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Marianna Gatto was planning a May wedding, Wayne said. “I guess he won’t be there to walk her down the aisle,” she said, choking back tears.

Wayne believes robbery must have been the motive because “no one in the world would have hurt Joe Gatto.”

"Senseless and brutal," she added. 

She described him as a loving grandfather and a wonderful dad. He was a “peaceful” man who cared about his community and family, she said.

“They were all inspired by him," Wayne said. "We were all inspired by him.... Joe was an incredible and beautiful man.”

In one of his runs for Assembly, Mike Gatto said in his biography that his father became a public school teacher "and never missed a day of work during his entire 40-plus-year career."

"A schoolteacher's salary was enough to provide good healthcare and save a little for college," Gatto said in his biography on his political website. "When times were tough, Mike's father worked three jobs, including teaching on Saturdays and working nights at Dodger Stadium."

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