Police release sketch of gunman who killed grandfather in park bathroom

Long Beach police are still looking for whoever shot a grandfather to death during a family reunion this summer, and on Wednesday they released a composite sketch of the gunman hoping to gather new leads.

The sketch shows a man wearing a brimmed hat. Witnesses told police he was white and in his 50s, about 6 feet tall with a medium build.

A composite sketch of the gunman who killed 57-year-old Fred Taft in a Pan American Park bathroom on July 21, 2018. Photo courtesy LBPD.

A composite sketch of the gunman who killed 57-year-old Fred Taft in a Pan American Park bathroom on July 21, 2018. Photo courtesy LBPD.

Investigators think he might have been wearing a dark shirt and light shorts on the afternoon of July 21 when he went into a bathroom at Pan American Park and shot 57-year-old Fred Taft nine times.

Some of Taft’s family, who were gathered at the park for the reunion, said they saw the gunman jogging away after the shooting.

Despite pleas from relatives and police, nobody has come forward with any information identifying the gunman.

The bathroom where Fred Taft was shot at Pan American Park on July 21, 2018. Photo by Asia Morris.

The shooting left Taft’s family mystified. His wallet and phone were found with his body, leading them to suspect the killing was racially motivated. The gunman was white, they said, and they also found racist graffiti in the park.

“What I want to understand is: Why? Why him? What’s his reason for killing somebody that day that didn’t bother him?”  Taft’s niece, Allison Flanigan recently told the Post.

Police, however, say they so far have no evidence pointing to any motive whatsoever.

Fred Taft. File photo

Earlier this month, police said they still hadn’t found any new witnesses despite city and county leaders announcing a $30,000 reward.

That reward is still up for grabs.

Police urged anyone who recognizes the man in the sketch to contact detectives Michael Hubbard and Adrian Garcia at 562-570-7244. Anonymous tips can be submitted to Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-TIPS or visiting lacrimestoppers.org.

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Jeremiah Dobruck is managing editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his journalism career in 2007 as an intern at Palos Verdes Peninsula News and has worked for The Forum Newsgroup in New York City, the Daily Pilot and the Press-Telegram.