Photos and video by Keeley Smith.
The crowd numbered upward of 80 people, as individuals clamored to the alleyway near 1500 Temple Street to honor the life of Barry Prak, whom family and friends have named as the man killed in the officer-involved shooting that occurred Tuesday, which also took the life of Credo the Long Beach Police K-9.
Prak was born and raised in Long Beach, and had acquired a large group of friends; his outgoing personality acted as a magnet in social circles; his passion for singing and dancing made him the life of the party, friends said.
“He was the star—I just watched,” said Prak’s brother, Vannara Prak, 28. “He was very good to his friends.”
Family and friends remember Barry Prak, killed in yesterday's officer-involved shooting that also resulted in the death of Credo the K-9. Video by Keeley Smith.Posted by Long Beach Post on Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Prak was killed just feet away from where he had been living, in friend Vannary San’s apartment, which she shared with her two children, brother and cousin. He was a known “anti-cop” community activist with links to past crimes, who felt strongly about police brutality.
Friends said he once advocated for the parents of a friend to see their son, who had been shot in an officer-involved shooting and was on life-support. His rallying worked; they were allowed to see the young man, who lived long enough to see their faces.
The incident that left him dead unfolded Tuesday morning, when members of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force, with the participation of Long Beach police, spotted the suspect believed to be Prak, who was wanted in connection with a December 2014 shooting involving multiple victims in the city, authorities said.
When task force members came into contact with the suspect near 16th Street and Temple Avenue, he fled on foot, and a foot chase ensued until the suspect ran into the apartment of an acquaintance, located on the 2800 block of East 15th Street. He was considered by officials at the time to be armed and dangerous.
Long Beach police were then dispatched at about 9:00AM to the apartment to assist task force members and establish a containment area, officials stated. The Long Beach Special Weapons and Tactics Team was activated as well.
Authorities also evacuated nearby residents just a few blocks away to Robert E. Lee Elementary School as a precautionary measure as the investigation continued.
Officials said the suspect complied with SWAT directions to exit the residence, but failed to comply with the officers’ verbal commands and instead began to “aggressively charge the officers.”
Police deployed intermediate force options, including a 40mm rubber baton round and K-9 Credo, who was attached to the SWAT unit.
“The suspect continued his aggressive charge toward officers while Credo continued to try and stop the suspect from advancing towards officers,” the release stated. “As Credo fought with the suspect, the suspect produced a knife while continuing to advance towards officers.”
One of the officers then discharged his weapon to protect the other officers and himself from the suspect, officials stated.
Both the suspect and Credo were struck by gunfire.
The suspect was transported to a local hospital by Long Beach Fire Department (LBFD) personnel and was later pronounced dead. Credo was transported by his handler, Officer Mike Parcells, to the Signal Hill Pet Hospital, where he died from his injuries.
San said she found out Prak was dead after a series of text messages and phone calls from her brother that had left her rattled.
According to San, Prak had dropped her two children off at Lee Elementary when her brother called and said someone was chasing him home from the school. They ran into the apartment, up the stairs, and closed the door, she said.
“I didn’t know what was going on. I could hear a voice that sounded strong and steady asking them to exit the apartment,” said San. “I thought they were going to surrender.”
She said when she arrived, she was whisked away to the nearest police station and interrogated. She discovered Prak had died while reading media reports after 7:00PM that evening.
Vannara said he found out through his brother-in-law. The family has yet to officially receive news that Barry Prak is dead. Prak left behind a mother, two older brothers, and a younger sister.
San said Prak had discussed a future as an activist, and sought to spotlight what has become a national trend, with attention on police use of force. He had been unemployed for some time, after working various jobs as a landscaper and at a few burger joints.
Prak’s Facebook page included photos with an array of friends, along with photos that had captions such as “My Last Thanksgiving Dinner before I go to Prison.” Prak’s Facebook also included photos with subjects posing and creating visible hand signs with their fingers.
San said she wants to know more about how Prak was shot.
“I just wish they had told us,” said San. “I wish they had told us why they shot him if he had a little knife?”