Frederick Taft
Screenshot: ABC7

Frederick Taft, 57, was enjoying a day out at a family reunion in a Long Beach, Calif., park over the weekend when he was shot and killed inside the restroom.

Relatives believe that Taft, a doting grandfather, was targeted solely because of his race, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Advertisement

The fatal shooting occurred at around 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Pan American Park. where between 40 and 50 people, most of whom were black, had gathered for the family reunion.

Sakeena Christmon, a friend of Taft’s who was at the reunion party, said that she saw a man carrying a rifle run out of the bathroom after the shooting. She described the man as wearing khaki shorts, calf-high socks and a fishing hat.

As Taft was alone in the bathroom at the time of the shooting, Christmon believes that the killing was motivated by race, and preplanned.

Advertisement

“He came here on a mission to kill,” she insisted of the killer.

“It wasn’t a robbery. They didn’t take his wallet. So what else was it?” Mareatha Moore, the mother of Taft’s daughter, questioned.

Taft’s daughter, Corie, said that hours after the shooting, a softball player came from a nearby game to tell Taft’s relatives that his group had been harassed by a group of white men on bicycles who were hurling racial slurs. Shortly after that, a man pulled up in a white Prius, laughing and yelling something about a “187 in the park” (slang referencing section 187 of the California Penal Code which defines the crime of murder) before speeding off.

Advertisement

According to ABC7, there was also a racial slur carved into a nearby park bench where the family had gathered.

Long Beach police spokesperson Arantxa Chavarria, however, said that investigators had not “uncovered any evidence of a hate crime.”

“Evidence is still being collected and analyzed,” she told the Times.