The wife of a Southern California mayor walked free out of a police station Tuesday night after being questioned about the shooting death of her husband of 28 years, sheriff’s officials said.
Bell Gardens Mayor Daniel Crespo, 45, was gunned down during a domestic dispute at their home in the 6300 block of East Gage Avenue in Bell Gardens (map), according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
The mayor punched the couple's 19-year-old son, Daniel Jr., in the face when the teen tried to intervene in the fight between his parents, investigators said. Crespo's 43-year-old wife, Lyvette, then allegedly grabbed a gun and shot the mayor multiple times in his upper body.
The shooting was reported at about 2:30 p.m. Crespo was taken to St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, where he was pronounced dead. Sources told the NBC4 I-Team a handgun was used to fire three rounds at the mayor, striking him in the torso.
Both the wife and son were questioned at the Bell Gardens police station. Several hours later, sheriff's detectives said the pair had been released and that no arrests had been made.
No further details were released and NBC4 is working to confirm details regarding events that led to the argument and shooting.
Investigators said they planned to present the case to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office, which will determine whether criminal charges will be filed. That process could take weeks, sources told the NBC4 I-Team.
Sources told NBC4 the mayor resided at the two-story condominium with his wife, 19-year-old son and 26-year-old daughter, who was not present at the time of the shooting.
"I couldn't believe it - I still can't believe it. I have a sick mom and now my brother is gone," said the mayor's brother, William Crespo. "He loved (his family) more than life. He loved his wife a lot, he always loved his wife."
His killing also stunned neighbors.
“I know him (from) when my kids were little, when they were in trouble all the time and he helped me with them because they don’t have a dad,” said neighbor Margarita Rios.
According to the city’s website, Crespo was a Brooklyn, New York, native who had been married to his high school sweetheart since 1986. After moving to Bell Gardens, he worked as a Los Angeles County deputy probation officer for 15 years. He was elected to the Bell Gardens City Council in 2001.
Bell Gardens is a suburb of about 42,000 residents. It's located roughly 18 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles.
California state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) called Crespo's death "shocking" and said their "hearts are heavy with grief."
Here is their joint statement:
"As representatives and residents of Bell Gardens, today's tragic news about the passing of our dear friend, Bell Gardens Mayor Daniel Crespo, is shocking and a tremendous loss for our close knit community. Mayor Crespo was a respected public servant who dedicated his life to protecting and helping others in Southeast Los Angeles and throughout the region. Our hearts are heavy with grief today; and our sincerest thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time. We ask that the public respect the privacy of his family during the impending investigation."
NBC4's Tena Ezzeddine contributed to this report.