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Long Beach police release new suspect info in 2018 murder of grandfather at family reunion


The Long Beach Police Department is asking for the public’s help after new information came to light regarding a 2018 killing of a man shot in the back of the head inside a public restroom.

Fred Taft, 57, was fatally shot when he went to use the restrooms at Pan American Park during a family reunion on July 21, 2018.

At the time, the suspect was described as a white man in his 50s, who was last seen fleeing the park on foot.

The slaying of Taft set off protests by family members and others alleging that the grandfather was targeted because he was Black, describing the brutal homicide as a hate crime.

This sketch depicts the alleged suspect in the July 21, 2018, killing of Fred Taft in Long Beach. (Long Beach Police Department)
This sketch depicts the alleged suspect in the July 21, 2018, killing of Fred Taft in Long Beach. (Long Beach Police Department)

But police have repeatedly said there was not enough evidence to definitively say the crime was racially motivated.

On Thursday, more than five years after Taft’s killing, the Long Beach Police Department held a press conference in which officials announced new investigative leads have produced a new suspect description.

Rather than a white man in his 50s, police say the suspect is actually a Hispanic man who is more likely in his 20s. That same new information revealed that the suspect in Taft’s killing may have used a blue minivan to flee the scene.

Despite this new information, police say the motive for the killing is still undetermined.

“In the five years since the murder of Fred Taft, Homicide detectives have tirelessly worked to follow all leads and identify new evidence. However, detectives need the public’s help in solving this crime,” the LBPD said in a news release.

Anyone with information about Taft’s killing is urged to contact the LBPD Homicide Detail at 562-570-7244. Anonymous tips can be submitted online or by calling 800-222-8477.

Long Beach public officials have offered a reward of as much as $30,000 for any information that leads to an arrest.

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