Authorities on Tuesday announced a $30,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension or conviction of the person responsible for killing a 57-year-old man in a Pan American Park bathroom.
Fred Taft, described as a loving family man, was shot to death in the bathroom while he was attending a family reunion at the park on July 21.
“We are all devastated and heartbroken and we need answers,” Taft’s daughter, Corie, said.
Police have not identified a suspect, but they are looking for a white man in his 50s who witnesses say fled the scene with a silver gun.
Taft’s friends and family have called the slaying a hate crime, but police say they haven’t determined a motive yet.
“We are very aware of the family’s and the community’s concern that this murder may be the result of a hate crime,” Police Chief Robert Luna said at a news conference Tuesday morning. “We are not ruling out any possibility from this case; every option is absolutely on the table.”
In addition to no known motive or suspect, Luna confirmed Tuesday that there were no cameras in the park the day of the shooting. Police urged anyone with photos or video at the park from that day to come forward if they think they have something that could lead to the shooter.
“We’re hoping that somebody who was out there has just a little piece of a puzzle that will help us put this person in jail and find out why he did this,” Luna said.
The reward was expected to total $20,000 with $10,000 each coming from the Long Beach City Council and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. But on Tuesday night, the Long Beach City Council voted to kicked in $20,000, upping the total to $30,000.
Police have said they think there are more witnesses who haven’t yet come forward. Taft, they say, was shot in the middle of the day when there were many people at the park in Long Beach’s Lakewood Village neighborhood.
The LBPD’s reluctance to call the shooting a hate crime has frustrated the family, along with the the trickle of information that has been released since the killing.
“We have concerns with how my dad’s murder has been handled from the beginning, but we are all grateful for the support and the community’s support as well,” Corie Taft said. “… Please keep talking to each other about turning in the man who is responsible for killing my father.”
Anyone with information can contact Long Beach homicide detectives Michael Hubbard and Adrian Garcia at 562-570-7244 or provide an anonymous tip to Los Angeles Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or www.lacrimestoppers.org.
Editor’s note: This story was updated with the new reward total after the city of Long Beach increased its contribution Tuesday night.
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