Police release sketch of suspect who may be linked to Gatto slaying


Los Angeles police released a description of a suspect sought in connection with a Silver Lake assault that officials said “may be connected” to the slaying of Joseph Gatto, father of a state assemblyman, found shot to death in his home last week.

The flier included a composite sketch of the suspect in the Nov. 12 assault, which occurred after a woman confronted a man breaking into a vehicle in the 2300 block of Moreno Drive. The man pointed a gun at the woman “and threatened to kill her,” the flier said, and repeated the threat to another witness before running down a set of public stairs on Tesla Avenue.

The account matched an email widely circulated among Silver Lake residents after the incident, in which a woman wrote that after she ran after the suspect, he turned and shouted: “Do you want to die tonight?”


Gatto, the father of Assemblyman Mike Gatto, was found dead in his home the next day, just blocks from where the assault occurred. The 78-year-old died of a gunshot wound to the abdomen, though authorities have declined to say when exactly they believe he was killed.

LAPD’s robbery-homicide division is handling the assault investigation because of its potential connection to the Gatto killing, officials told The Times on Tuesday.

“We want to talk to the individual,” Capt. Billy Hayes said of the suspect in the assault case.

He was described on the flier as a white man in his early 20s, approximately 5-foot-9 and weighing 180 pounds. He was wearing a multicolored, hooded sweatshirt and tan pants, and carried a tan backpack.

Hayes stressed detectives have made no definitive connection between the assault and Gatto’s killing, but said they were exploring all potential leads.

“We don’t have a definitive suspect,” Hayes said of the murder probe. “This is the fairly early days of the investigation.”

The elder Gatto spent decades teaching art at schools across Los Angeles and was remembered by former students as a tough-love teacher whose honesty and guidance made him a valued mentor. He was described as a fixture in the community he had long called home, a loving father and grandfather proud of his children’s accomplishments.

A public funeral mass has been scheduled for Monday, followed by a private reception and graveside burial.


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