An African-American family, gathered for a reunion, never thought that their celebration would turn into mourning when they went to the Pan American Park in Long Beach.
Things took a violent turn, when a 57-year-old grandfather was shot dead in a public restroom of the park.
Frederick Taft, a truck driver by profession was shot in the upper torso. The family now suspects his murder was racially motivated.
“You go to the bathroom during midday and someone shoots you for no reason?”said Taft’s sister Cheryl Malonson.
Taft’s niece who was just steps away from the bathroom when she heard gunshots. “I hadn’t even made it—when he turned the corner to go in—I hadn’t even made it 10 steps when I heard the shots, three times,” said Deborah Posey. “And when I heard them I screamed and said, ‘Fredrick’s been shot,’ because I figured he was the only one in the restroom.”
According to Posey, the man who shot Taft was a white man wearing a big hat that covered his face. Sakeena Christmon, a friend who was also at the gathering said she saw a white man run out of the bathroom, he had a rifle in his hands and was wearing khaki-shorts and a fishing hat.
Arantxa Chavarria, a Long Beach police spokeswoman, described the suspect as a white man in his 50s, however the detectives had not “uncovered any evidence of a hate crime.”
The police also did not comment on the weapon that was used for the murder. They are still investigating Taft’s death, but noted that a racial slur was scribbled on a nearby bench.
According to park visitors, three white men had scribbled those slurs on the bench.
Taft’s daughter, Corie, who described her father as a “bighearted” man was scared that the gunman was out with a weapon and might hurt other people. “My family never saw this coming,” said Taft. “We just want closure. My dad didn’t deserve this.”
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