An open garage door may have led a killer into the Silver Lake home of Joseph Gatto

Rendering of suspect thief involved in the Gatto murder |LAPD

Rendering of suspect thief involved in the Gatto murder |LAPD

SILVER LAKE — Two years have come and gone since 78-year-old teacher and artist Joseph Gatto, father of Assemblyman Mike Gatto, was shot dead in his home on Bright Lane.  The suspect has evaded capture despite a reward and widespread publicity, including a vigil held last month on the second anniversary of Gatto’s death.  The LAPD recently provided more details about how Gatto may have died at the hands of a thief who was on the run before he entered the victim’s home through an open garage door.

In a recent interview on L.A.’s Most Wanted on Fox 11, LAPD Detective Barry Telis says he believes that a man suspected of breaking into cars on Moreno Drive on the evening of Nov. 12, 2013 was Gatto’s killer.  After threatening witnesses with a gun, the man, wearing a hoodie and carrying a backpack,  is believed to have fled down a public stairway to Kennilworth Avenue before heading down Bright Lane where Gatto lived.  Here, according to Fox 11, is what Telis believes happened next:

That’s where [the suspect] saw Joseph Gatto’s garage with its door open. Detective Telis believes the gunman went inside to hide, but became trapped when Mr. Gatto closed the garage door. At some point, the gunman entered the attached house and murdered Mr. Gatto.

“I believe that he thought that the police were coming because he had just pointed a gun at two people,” Telis said.  The garage, which was attached to the home, “was the best place to hide.”

Gatto’s body was discovered a day later slumped over a desk.

A story in the Los Feliz Ledger says that Gatto’s daughter, Mariann, speculated that the garage door was left open after her father got a computer printer out of the trunk of his car.  In response to the LAPD’s open-garage-door theory, Mike Gatto said  that it was an “unlucky occurrence … or else there’s something going on here much greater than we understand.”

Detective Telis said he believes that the suspected killer lives in the area and is still breaking into cars and homes.

Anyone with any information that could lead to the arrest and conviction of the murderer is asked to call the LAPD’s hotline at 1-877-LAPD-24-7, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS. The $50,000 reward remains in effect.

gatto map

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  1. Sounds highly unlikely and improbable to me. A burglar’s priority is to hide and avoid detection not hide and avoid detection to murder an unsuspecting resident without burglarizing their home. I also don’t see how committing a murder helps a burglar avoid detection while the subject of a hot pursuit(?). I hope that police disregard the pressure of simply “solving” this case and dedicate themselves to patient and solid detective work. Otherwise, it almost sounds as if they’re simply setting the stage to pin this serious crime on some local burglar. I mean, how many dual murders and burglaries have occurred in the area before and after this crime? And what burglar would continue burglarizing an area where he knows he’s being sought for murder?!? Sounds highly unlikely and improbable to me.

    • Agreed. Assemblyman Gatto was working on some pretty interesting legislation at the time too. He was the spearhead to allow the alert system to be used for hit-and-run drivers after that bicyclist was hit, dragged, and maimed in Griffith Park… I’ve always thought it whiffed of politics. And I’ll be the connection is right there on Moreno Drive.

      • In the California State Assembly, Mike Gatto was the primary proponent of legislation intended towards enacting an Amendment to the United States Constitution which would invalidate the legal precedent established by the U.S. Supreme Court decision known as “Citizens United”.
        The effect of the “Citizens United” decision was an almost immedeate and unprecedented increase in the total amount of cash donations to Political Action Committees. These funds are used to pay the fees of political consultants and operatives and their support staff and overhead. These funds flow throughout the various enterprises involved as part of the industry of political influence and election campaigning.
        The increase in Political Action Committee donations allowed certain properly placed individuals to increase their annual incomes by hundreds of thousands or possibly some millions of dollars.
        The political campaign and consultant industry has doubled, tripled or quadrupled in size as measured by economic dollars as the result of “Citizens United”.
        If a movement was successful in enacting a Constitutional Amendment which invalidated “Citizens United”, the nominal economic value of the political campaign and consultant industry would rapidly shrink back to resemble its former size.
        Karl Rove would not be happy, the Koch brothers would be upset, the Clintons would shudder in revulsion.
        Every established poltical campaign operative at every level on both the Democrat and the Republican side has an interest in stopping any movement seeking reversal of “Citizen’s United”, because that would drastically reduce the cash horde used to generate their personal income and profits.

  2. This is ridicules!! There is a lot more to the story and it’s not that simplistic. Why would a petty thief breaking into cars during a time when people return home from work and walking their dogs and then murder?? Also why would thief/murderer not go down Tesla St, as it is a shorter distance to get to West Silver Lake Blvd? To this day no one knows what was stolen from Mr. Gatto’s home. Murders do not happen in the Moreno Highlands and this one is suspicious. It been over 2 years and this is the lame story the detectives come up with?? Give me a break……..

  3. Gatto represents Glendale. Glendale is full of Armenians. Do you get it now?

  4. Mr. Gatto , deceased in his home on Bright Lane, was found seated at his desk.
    And there was no signs of a struggle or physical confrontation. That indicates he knew the person and allowed them into the home. That still leaves the question of where the shooter stood – under the desk?
    Perhaps the death of Joe Gatto should be reclassified as a suicide or an assisted suicide.
    Mr. Gatto was already deceased when he was shot in the stomach and some items in the home were knocked over to create the appearance of robbery.
    Was a complete post-mortem examination conducted to determine the cause of death.
    Will the Gatto family grant permission for all relevant medical records disclosed so the public can know if Joe Gatto may have been suffering a very painful or terminal medical condition, usually the precursor to a compassionate assisted suicide?
    Will they also fully disclose all relevant information about life insurance policies and beneficiaries of Joe Gatto.
    Its much easier to accept the probability of someone being allowed into the home or someone intentionally breaking and entering into the home.
    The theory that a gunman originally fled into the open garage and got trapped inside after the garage door closed is quite interesting.
    It indicates that beneficiaries are now pursuing a claim against Joe Gatto’s homeowner’s umbrella liability insurance policy

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