LOS ANGELES - Mike Gatto was a state assemblyman when he got the news that a single gunshot killed his father, Joseph Gatto. That was 10 years ago. The Gatto family remains hopeful the killer will be found and justice will be served, and hope by bringing attention to the case, it may prompt someone to come forward with critical information.
It's family tradition for Mike Gatto's children to leave a letter at their grandfather's gravesite on the anniversary of his death. Gatto chokes up as he reads the letter of his eldest daughter, Elle.
"It's been 10 years, and I still haven't been able to process that you're not here anymore," the letter read.
"I miss him a lot, but I miss him more on behalf of my children, and seeing them growing up without him, that's been hard," Mike Gatto said.
Joseph Gatto was beloved in his Silver Lake neighborhood. But, on Nov. 12, 2013, someone went inside his home and shot him in the abdomen. His youngest daughter, Marianna Gatto, found him sitting at his desk.
"I didn't realize it was homicide," she said. "I thought something else had occurred."
Both siblings yearn for closure and justice for their father. Detectives told Marianna Gatto just last week that she needed patience to find the killer. There is a tiny bit of DNA evidence, as the database grows and the technology becomes refined, she said, "a big part of our hope is resting in science."
In the meantime, the Gatto family has kept Joseph Gatto's memory alive beyond the family. As assemblyman in 2014, Mike Gatto had part of the 10 Freeway renamed as the Joe Gatto Memorial Freeway. In May, Marianna Gatto gave the commencement speech to the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, a school Joseph Gatto helped found and shape.
So the next time you pass by a Robert Vargas mural, admire the artwork of Sonia Romero, or even Kehinde Wiley's portrait of President Barack Obama, you can thank Joseph Gatto for his influence on them when they were students at LACHSA.
"He really had a terrific group of kids that he taught at that school," Mike Gatto said. And they went on to great things exactly as he predicted."