Former Bell city councilman arrested on suspicion of killing his wife

Danny Harber, seen being sworn in as a Bell City Council member, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of killing his wife.
Danny Harber, seen here being sworn in as a City Council member in Bell, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of killing his wife.
(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

A former Bell city councilman was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of killing his wife, authorities said.

Danny Harber, 76, elected in 2011 after scandal and indictments obliterated Bell’s previous City Council, was taken to a hospital Tuesday to be medically cleared before being booked on suspicion of murder, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.

He is being held on $200,000 bail.

Responding to a report of a gunshot victim, Bell police officers arrived about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday at a home in the 4900 block of Weik Avenue and found Harber’s 81-year-old wife, Donna, fatally shot in the upper torso, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

The officers detained Danny Harber when they arrived and turned him over to sheriff’s detectives for questioning.

Harber was among a new crop of Bell City Council members swept into office in 2011, after The Times revealed that leaders of the small, perennially cash-strapped city had lavished its meager funds on enormous salaries and other plum benefits for themselves.


The city manager, Robert Rizzo, had enjoyed an annual salary and benefits package that exceeded $1.5 million; other officials, such as the police chief and Rizzo’s assistant, collected similarly staggering paychecks.

Members of Bell’s City Council had essentially exercised no oversight over Rizzo and other administrators, and they had themselves banked six-figure salaries to sit on commissions that rarely met and to conduct meetings that lasted minutes. Five council members pleaded guilty to misappropriating public funds.

Harber, a retired baker, was elected in 2011 to replace the seat vacated by Teresa Jacobo, who had been arrested and recalled. Jacobo was later sentenced to two years in prison.

“I think we just need a fresh start,” Harber told The Times shortly before being sworn in. He was tapped to be the city’s vice mayor and served on the council until 2013.