Man Murdered In Long Beach Park Bathroom, Family Claims Race Was Motive

posted by City News Service - 

LONG BEACH (CNS) - Police searched today for the person who shot and killed a Long Beach man in a restroom in Pan American Park in what his relatives call a hate crime.

The victim, identified as Fredrick Renay Taft, 57, of Long Beach, was shot in the upper body and pronounced dead at the park in the 5100 block of Centralia Street Saturday afternoon, according to Assistant Chief Ed Winter of the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office. Police have not released a motive for the shooting, but Taft's relatives told the Los Angeles Times they believe he was targeted because he is black.

Taft was attending a family reunion in the park with between 40 and 50 people in attendance, Taft's nephew David Malonson told the Times.

A friend of Taft's who was at the party told the newspaper she saw a man carrying a rifle run out of the bathroom toward Centralia Avenue after the shooting.

Detectives had not “uncovered any evidence of a hate crime,” said Arantxa Chavarria, a Long Beach police spokeswoman, in an email to the Times.  “Evidence is still being collected and analyzed.”

Taft's daughter told the paper a person who had been playing softball nearby said his group had been harassed in the park hours before the shooting by a group of white men on bikes who were using racial slurs.

Photo: Getty Images

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