Bell Gardens Mayor Daniel Crespo was fatally shot Tuesday in what investigators called a domestic dispute.
Levette Crespo, 43, allegedly shot her husband multiple times in the torso.
Crespo was rushed to the hospital but died along the way, county fire officials have confirmed.
Levette was taken into custody by Bell Gardens police for questioning but released. No charges were filed and the case is being referred to the District Attorney who will decide whether to press charges.
Crespo often referred to his wife as the love of his life, they’d been together since high school.
‘According to sheriff’s and county fire officials, the shooting occurred at about 2:30 p.m. in the 6300 block of East Gage Avenue, apparently at the Vinas La Campana townhome complex where Crespo lived with his family.
Sheriff Lt. Steve Jauch said the mayor and his wife were arguing when their son, Daniel Crespo Jr., 19, intervened and the two men became involved in a physical altercation. That’s when, according to authorities, Levette Crespo, 43, fatally shot her husband multiple time in the chest.
Mrs. Crespo was detained at the Bell Gardens Police Station; Daniel Jr. was taken to the hospital to be treated for injuries to his face sustained during the fight with his father. Daniel Jr. was also questioned by police.
The couple also have a 27-year-old daughter; her whereabouts were not immediately known.
Neighbors gathered near the home, blocked off with crime scene tape as homicide detectives examined the scene. Several visibly distraught people said they never expected anything like this to happen, describing the Crespo’s as a close knit family.
A woman who said she knew the mayor and his family told EGP she was shocked by the shooting. Speaking in Spanish, she described the family as very “calm.” The woman, who claims to have worked as a housekeeper for the family, asked not to be identified by name.
A person driving by the home, yelled out “Levette is a good woman.”
Another neighbor, upon learning that the mayor’s wife is believed to have delivered the fatal shots, said she “she must have been crazy” at the moment.
In a memo, Bell Gardens City Manager Philip Wagner informed city staff “with great sadness” that the mayor had been shot and died from his injuries.
“Our thoughts and prayers should be with Mayor Crespo’s family at this time.”
He also informed staff the city is working to make grief counselors available Wednesday, “to help employees deal with this tragedy.”
Crespo has worked as a deputy probation officer for the past 15 years, according to a biography on the city’s website. For the past five years he has worked in a gang and narcotics unit.
He was elected to the City Council in 2001 and was selected by his fellow council members to serve as mayor in November 2013.
At the time, he told EGP that he was “completely caught by surprise” when former longtime rivals Councilwomen Jennifer Rodriguez and Priscilla Flores backed him for the position. He’d often been at odds with the council majority, but in the last year appeared to have mended fences with his council colleagues. He told EGP during an editorial board meeting prior to his 2013 reelection, that he had reached out Rodriguez and Flores and told them he wanted to work together, to put their differences aside for the good of the city.
Crespo, said he was “deeply honored” to serve as mayor and pledged to represent “Bell Gardens working men and women with honor and integrity.”
A native of Brooklyn, New York, Crespo has a degree in psychology and family counseling from East Los Angeles College and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and public administration from Cal State Los Angeles. He was working on a master’s degree in public administration, according to his online biography.
Story updated at 6:55 p.m. to clarify the initial dispute was between the mayor and his wife.
Story updated 6:40 p.m. to include altercation with mayor’s son, Daniel Crespo, Jr. and Bell Gardens making grief counselors available to city employees.
Story updated at 6:20 p.m. with comments from neighbors.
Story updated at 5:15 p.m.to state the mayor had died and Levette Crespo had been detained.
Story first posted at 4:14 p.m.
Information from City News Service used in this report.
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