On the afternoon of July 21st, 2018 at approximately 4:30 PM at Pan American Park in the 5100 block of Centralia Avenue, 57 year old Fredrick Taft was shot nine times, three times in the lower body, three times in the back and once in the head, killing him inside a park restroom.
40-50 members of the Taft family had assembled for a family reunion at the time of the shooting. A Long Beach Police spokesperson has stated that there is a suspect that is sought for questioning about the shooting, and released a sketch to the general public and offering a reward to any information. The suspect is said to be a white man in his 50’s. Witnesses have described a man running from the bathroom where Taft was killed wearing khaki shorts, calf-high socks and a fishing hat. He was seen carrying a rifle as he ran. Since the description and the sketch (released 4 months later) were released information and progress on the case has almost stopped entirely.
Many have stated that this killing was racial motivated as Taft was black as were the majority of the family in attendance at the reunion. Witnesses at the event had reported a white man in a Prius driving by and shouting “187 in the Park.” the day of the shooting. There were also reports of another group, nearby playing softball, that had been harassed by a group of white men on bicycles shouting racial slurs. This coupled with the fact that none of Taft’s belongings (including a wallet full of cash) were left untouched.
Police have stated that there is not enough evidence to point toward a hate crime, but local residents have reported racist actions have been a regular occurrence in this area before and after the shooting.
Taft’s daughter, Corie described her father as a “Big-hearted” person who loved his family, especially his grandchildren. Frederick Taft was a devoted family man who was enjoying time with his family when he was gunned down in public. There as of yet have been no further leads in the case and information from the Long Beach Police is limited. His naive Allison Flaagan would say of her uncle, “He was a hardworking truck driver who loved his family and took care of business, we’re asking at this point to do something different. We have nothing at this point.”