Mary Bryant found her sister lying in a pool of blood when she arrived at Orizaba Park in Long Beach on Friday afternoon.
Paramedics were working hard to save teacher Kellye Taylor, 53, who had been stabbed from behind while her students played nearby.
“I said, ‘Jesus, I don’t think my sister is going to make it.’ They didn’t stop working, they didn’t stop working,” she said. “But I knew she was gone already.”
Bryant, 52, rushed to Taylor’s side as soon as she got the call from her sister, Pamela Huffman, that Taylor was in trouble. The three sisters all work at their mother’s schools -- Taylor and Huffman at Huntington Academy, across the street from Orizaba Park, and Bryant at Creative Art School, a preschool a mile away.
She saw the doctors get a pulse on her sister when they arrived at St. Mary Medical Center, she said, but they weren’t able to repair her damaged jugular.
“That day I ran for the life of my sister. I should have been there earlier,” she said, adding that she has trouble moving quickly because of a disability.
Authorities allege that Steven Brown attacked Taylor, who is the grandmother of Brown's children and has custody of them. Brown, 50, was booked on suspicion of murder in connection with the case and is being held in lieu of $1-million bail. Prosecutors have not yet filed criminal charges.
Taylor and two other teachers were at the park supervising a small group of students. It is across the street from Huntington Academy, a small elementary school that serves kindergarten to sixth-graders.
As the children played on the jungle gym -- part of their “Fun Friday” activities -- Brown approached Taylor, who was sitting on a folding chair, from behind and stabbed her, according to Long Beach police Sgt. Aaron Eaton.
Teachers focused on the children after the stabbing, telling them to run fast to the school, Bryant said. Someone helped Taylor apply pressure to her neck. Another teacher screamed “What do I do? What do I do?” Taylor told her to calm down and call 911, Bryant said.
Witnesses identified the suspect, authorities said, and police apprehended him a few blocks from the park. Eaton said a weapon was recovered from the scene, but he would not identify it.
The motive for the attack is under investigation, but Bryant said Brown was angry that Taylor had custody of his children.
“They said he came like a snake in the grass, no one saw him coming, the way he snuck up on the right side of her,” she said. “He wanted custody so badly, but he couldn’t get his life together. I would have never thought he would have taken my sister’s life.”
Taylor was happy and outgoing, and she loved children -- teaching at her mother’s school was who she was, Bryant said. The sisters grew up helping out at the schools, Bryant said, and often assisted with arts and crafts and played with students once their own grade-school classes finished.
Her sister always had a smile on her face, and loved seeing other people happy, Bryant said.
“My heart is broken,” she said. “Only God can heal it. It hurts so bad.”