Long Beach Police Seek Public’s Help Solving Black Man’s Killing, Which Some Believe Was a Hate Crime
The killing of a 57-year-old man at a park in Long Beach, believed by his family and others to be a hate crime, is still being investigated as detectives called for the public’s help solving the crime on Thursday.
While celebrating a family reunion at Pan American Park, Fred Taft left to use the restroom on July 21, his family perviously told KTLA. Still inside the bathroom, he was shot in the back moments later by a suspect who police have only described as a white man.
So far, the only other details police have gathered about the mystery shooter is that he was believed to be in his 50s and stood about 6 feet tall with a medium build. He was possibly wearing a dark shirt with light shorts and a hat at the time of the killing, police said.
Since there were a number of people at the park then, police said, investigators believe there are people out there who may have information that has not yet been brought forward.
Police also said the killing still appears to be an isolated incident, but the possibility of something else has not been ruled out. The motive into the fatal shooting is still not known and under investigation, police said.
Taft’s family members and others in the community have decried the killing as a hate crime, rallying at the park a week later to bring justice in his death. Still, police have previously said there has not been evidence gathered indicating it is a hate crime.
But in the latest statement released by Long Beach police on Thursday, there was no mention of the hate crime allegation — with officials not at all remarking on the possibility.
At the rally in Pan American Park a week after his death, Taft’s family expressed outrage over what they believe was a racially motivated attack. Protesters were seen chanting “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!”
“He literally was here celebrating life with his family, went in to use the restroom and some man — that is actually right now defined as a white male — shot him in the back of the head and then ran off,” said the victim’s niece, Dr. Medell Briggs-Malonson, said at the time.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Long Beach Police Homicide Detectives Michael Hubbard and Adrian Garcia at 562-570-7244. Anonymous tips can be given by calling 800-222-8477.