Long Beach police say a suspect has been taken into custody for the fatal shooting of a 33-year-old man during an altercation at 14th Street Park last year.

Joseph Ballard, 23, who was in state prison for an unrelated crime, was taken to Long Beach City Jail Monday where he was booked on suspicion of murder in connection with the slaying of Fontana resident Thomas Ferguson on Oct. 22, 2023, according to the Long Beach Police Department.

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It’s not clear whether Ballard and Ferguson knew each other before that day or what led up to them interacting, police said. But the two got involved in an altercation that afternoon at 14th Street Park in Long Beach’s Washington neighborhood.

At some point, Ballard shot Ferguson multiple times in the upper body and fled the scene, police said. Authorities found Ferguson at the park and rushed him to a local hospital where he died, police said.

Ballard was arrested the following month by Signal Hill police for an unrelated crime and later sentenced, according to arrest records and police. Police did not say what the unrelated crime was or how long he was sentenced for, but detectives with the LBPD eventually identified him as a suspect in Ferguson’s killing, authorities said.

Detectives in February presented the case against Ballard to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, who then filed an arrest warrant for the 23-year-old, police said. He will be in court later this week to be arraigned on the murder charge, police said.

Authorities believe there were additional witnesses near the park when the shooting occurred and are asking them to come forward. Anyone with more information is asked to contact detectives at 562-570-7244.