By Alison Vekshin and James Nash
Daniel Crespo, mayor of the Los Angeles suburb of Bell Gardens, was shot to death today at his home in a domestic dispute, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.
Crespo, whose city biography described him as a deputy probation officer for the county, was killed about 2:30 p.m. in the town about 8 miles (13 kilometers) south of Los Angeles.
“They didn’t have any problems,” said Jannette Morales, a family friend who said she’d known the Crespos for more than 13 years. “They had a beautiful relationship.”
The mayor was quarreling with his wife when his 19-year-old son “tried to intervene in the argument and a physical altercation ensued between father and son,” sheriff’s Lieutenant Steve Jauch said in an interview. “That’s when she produced a firearm and shot him multiple times.”
Crespo’s wife, 43, suffered minor facial injuries, he said, though investigators didn’t know if those resulted from the dispute with her husband. The sheriff’s department said her given name is Levette, while public records show it as Lyvette.
Crespo was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead, sheriff’s Deputy Crystal Hernandez said in an interview. His wife was being detained by the Bell Gardens Police Department, she said.
He was appointed to the city planning commission in 1999 and was elected to the city council in 2001, according to the website.
“When not working or participating in the very time-consuming activities of being an elected official, Mayor Crespo enjoys spending time with his family,” the website says.
Police late today blocked access to a complex of stucco townhouses where the family lived. Jauch said homicide investigators hadn’t determined whether authorities had been called to the home for domestic incidents in the past.
Bell Gardens, a community of about 2.5 square miles (6.5 square kilometers), has a population of 43,000 and is 96 percent Hispanic, according to U.S. Census reports. About 27 percent of residents live below the poverty level, almost twice the state average.
Bell Gardens is just east of Bell, California, whose city manager drew national attention for writing his own employment contracts that gave him almost $800,000 a year to run the city of 38,000.
The manager, Robert Rizzo, was sentenced in April to 12 years in state prison after he was convicted of misappropriating public funds.
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at [email protected] Pete Young, Mike Millard