Los Angeles

“I Don't Believe It”: Friends, Family Stunned by Shooting Death of Bell Gardens Mayor

The mayor's wife and son were questioned for several hours after the shooting and released Tuesday night

The brother of the Bell Gardens mayor police said was shot dead by his wife said Wednesday he will always love his sister-in-law, though he wishes she hadn't taken "matters into her own hands."

Daniel Crespo, 45, was gunned down at his family home Tuesday afternoon after punching his 19-year-old son, Daniel Jr., in the face when the teen tried to intervene in a fight between his parents, investigators said. Police said Crespo's 43-year-old wife, Lyvette, then grabbed a gun and shot the mayor multiple times in his upper body.

The mayor died at a hospital. His brother, William Crespo, said he's conflicted about what happened.

"If it was that, she should've called 911. She shouldn't take matters into her own hands. She's not the cops," he said. "I love her; I still love her. She's still my sister-in-law; I'm always going to love her."

Neighbors told NBC4 they were in shock and never expected their friend would be shot and killed.

"I don't believe what happened in here, because he is my neighbor, and he was a very friendly person," Laura de la Cruz said. "I don't believe it."

Crespo's 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.

"He was working so much and helping the community so much, and I remember he would always give out gifts for the children," Cruz's daughter said. "I didn't believe it was Crespo, because he did so much for this community. He just helped so many people."

Sources told NBC4 the mayor lived 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'd see them as a normal family," said Janet Morales, who said she's known the couple for 25 years. "Never have I seen violence before. That is the reason why I'm in shock."

Investigators have not released additional details about the shooting, and prosecutors will decide whether to press charges against Crespo's wife in his death.

"We don't know exactly what happened," said Alberto Bernal, who met Crespo during his campaign for City Council in 2001. "Only the people involved at the scenes know exactly what happened and to take images and information out of context, it's sad.

"It's just heart-breaking that my friend is no longer with us," Bernal said.

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.

The city issued a statement Wednesday and said Tuesday's shooting "have stunned this very close-knit community."

"This is a tremendous loss for Bell Gardens," City Manager Philip Wagner said in the statement.

Grief counselors were staffed at City Hall on Wednesday to help city employees and will be made available to community members, the statement read.

Friends of Crespo plan to hold a vigil at City Hall Friday night.

Bell Gardens is a suburb of about 42,000 residents. It's located roughly 18 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles.

Willian Avila and John Cádiz Klemack contributed to this report.

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