The sister of a Long Beach teacher fatally stabbed in front of her students Friday at a playground described the crime as “nightmare.”
Authorities allege that Steven Brown attacked Kellye Taylor, 53, a teacher at Huntington Academy, which serves nearly 30 students from kindergarten to 6th grade. Taylor was the grandmother of Brown’s four children and had custody of them.
A candlelight vigil was held Saturday night for Taylor.
“It’s like a nightmare. It’s like I want to wake up from a bad dream,” said Taylor’s sister Mary Bryant in an interview with KTLA News. “But in reality, it is what it is. My sister’s no longer with us.”
The motive for the attack is under investigation, but Taylor’s younger sister, Pamela Huffman, told the Long Beach Press Telegram that the custody arrangement had caused friction with Brown.
Brown, 50, was booked on suspicion of murder in connection with the case and is being held on $1-million bail.
According to Huffman, Taylor and two other teachers were supervising nearly two dozen students at Orizaba Park, across the street from Huntington Academy.
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.
Huffman said some of the children ran back to the school to tell her what had happened. She said she then raced to the park to try to help her sister.
“How could they do something like this in front of these babies?” Huffman told the Press Telegram. “All I could do was run to her. I saw her slip away. I knew she wasn’t going to make it.”
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.
Huffman said Taylor has a husband and three children.
“She loved children, and she loved being around children,” Vanessa Kelly, another of Taylor’s sisters, told KABC-TV. “She loved teaching children, and that’s what she did.”
The case is under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact Long Beach police homicide Det. Hugo Cortes or Det. Peter Lackovic. Anonymous tips can be submitted by calling (800) 222-8477, texting TIPLA and a tip to CRIMES (274637), or visiting L.A. Crimestoppers.