City Councilman Jose Huizar canceled Monday's scheduled news conference in the aftermath of an e-mail sent by his now-fired spokesman stating the campaign would "put a political bullet" in the head of rival candidate Rudy Martinez before the March 8 election.
Huizar's news conference had been intended to criticize businessman Martinez for possessing an LAPD badge bearing the name of a slain officer. It was canceled two hours before it was to begin.
A Huizar aide said the campaign has "serious concerns about the badge issue" and wants the focus to remain on it, rather than on the e-mail.
Huizar fired spokesman Michael Trujillo on Sunday after he was found to have sent an e-mail to about two dozen supporters Friday.
In the message, Trujillo wrote: "I treated (Martinez) like I was a cat playing with a trapped mouse.
"Well, now he is going to be the dead rat he really is," the e-mail continued. "...We are about to put a political bullet in between Rudy Martinez' forehead and make him pee in his pants, too."
The Los Angeles Times reported Trujillo sent out the e-mail after sending the newspaper a redacted copy of a 2005 report from the LAPD, which investigated Martinez' possession of the badge.
Huizar sent a separate e-mail to his supporters, stating, "I became aware of Mr. Trujillo's e-mail this morning, and immediately terminated his relationship with our campaign."
"The remarks were inappropriate, disrespectful and offensive," he said. "On behalf of the campaign, I apologize to Mr. Martinez for this breach."
Trujillo's remarks come a month after Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot and seriously injured. Six other people were killed in that attack, and local officials said campaign "vitriol" may have played a role in the violence.
Martinez's campaign spokesman, George Gonzalez, also noted that the candidate's brother, Mario Martinez, was fatally shot in Hollywood in 1987, and his killer was never caught.