Tips Sought in Man's Shooting Death in Long Beach Park Restroom

posted by City News Service - 

LONG BEACH (CNS) - Police today sought tips from the public as they investigate the shooting death of a 57-year-old man last month in a restroom in Pan American Park in Long Beach. 

Fredrick Renay Taft of Long Beach was shot in the head and upper body about 4:25 p.m. July 21 at the park in the 5100 block of Centralia Street. Taft, who died at the scene, was attending a family reunion in the park, with between 40 and 50 people in attendance, his relatives said. 

The suspect -- described as a white man in his 50s, 6 feet tall with a medium build -- fled on foot. He was possibly wearing a dark shirt, light shorts and a hat, police said.``This murder took place at a time when numerous people were in the surrounding area of the park,'' according to a Long Beach police statement. 

``Detectives believe there are individuals who might have information regarding this incident but have yet to come forward.''Police said the killing appears to be an isolated incident, but a motive has not been established. Relatives of Taft, who was black, believe the killing was a hate crime. 

Taft's daughter previously told the Los Angeles Times that 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. 

A friend of Taft's who was at the party told the newspaper that she saw a man carrying a rifle run out of the bathroom toward Centralia Avenue after the shooting.``Solving this murder and ensuring public safety is of paramount importance to the police department,'' the LBPD statement issued this afternoon says. 

``Efforts to identify the suspect and ensure the safety of our community will continue through increased patrols in and around the area of Pan American Park. As with all investigations, the police department will continue to evaluate and assess other crimes that could be related to this murder.''

Anyone with information about the shooting was urged to contact Long Beach police homicide Detectives Michael Hubbard and Adrian Garcia at (562) 570-7244. 

Anonymous tips can be submitted through Crime Stoppers by calling (800) 222-TIPS or at lacrimestoppers.org.

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