Man shot to death at Pan American Park during family reunion

One man is dead after being shot at Pan American Park in Long Beach’s Lakewood Village neighborhood around 4:25 p.m., according to authorities.

The shooting happened in a bathroom at the western edge of the park where a large group was gathered for a reunion of family members and neighbors, many of them from the Wilmington area, according to people in the group. Some of them were cooking food, and kids were playing on a nearby playground.

The man was shot in a bathroom near a playground in Pan American Park where family and friends were gathered for a reunion on July 21, 2018. Photo by Valerie Osier.

Members of the group said a man followed the victim into the bathroom and then shot him. The gunman fled the park on foot after the shooting and the motive for the killing is unknown, police said.

Police had the bathroom cordoned off with tape and an officer stood at the men’s room door as they waited for the coroner to arrive. Coroner’s officials identified the victim as Fred Taft, a 57-year-old from Long Beach. He was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

Taft was attending the reunion, which happens every year at the park, according to Robert Jordan, who said he grew up down the street from Taft.

“He was a good guy, not a gangbanger,” Jordan said.

Police were still searching for the gunman Saturday night and did not release a detailed description of him, saying only that he’s believed to be an adult.

Some of the people at the reunion were still gathered about two hours after the shooting, tensely watching the crime scene.

This story has been updated to add Taft’s name.

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Valerie Osier is a breaking news and crime reporter for the Long Beach Post. She’s a Riverside native who found her love for journalism while at community college. She graduated from Cal State University, Long Beach journalism program in 2017 and covered the Palos Verdes Peninsula for the Daily Breeze prior to coming to the Post. She lives in Long Beach with her husband, Steven, and her cat/child, Jones.
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