LONG BEACH (AP) — Nearly 100 people attended a memorial Saturday to mourn an elementary school teacher who was fatally stabbed in the neck while watching her students play at a park.
Long Beach police said Kellye Taylor, 53, was at a playground across the Huntington Academy Friday afternoon when a man later identified as the father of her grandchildren came up from behind and attacked her.
Officers arrested Steven Brown, 50, of Long Beach, soon afterward.
Investigators recovered the “sharp instrument” they believe Brown used, Sgt. Aaron Eaton said. Brown was taken to Long Beach’s jail, where he was held on $1 million bail.
Some of the two dozen children who were playing at the park witnessed the attack. They ran back to the school owned and operated by Taylor’s family to report what happened.
“How could they do something like this in front of these babies,” Pamela Huffman, Taylor’s younger sister who also works at the school, told the Long Beach Press-Telegram. “All I could do was run to her. I saw her slip away. I knew she wasn’t going to make it.”
Taylor had custody of her grandchildren, which upset Brown, Huffman said. Police said Saturday they have not developed a possible motive, and didn’t know the status of the relationship between Brown and Taylor’s daughter.
“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 Huntington Academy serves nearly 30 students from kindergarten to sixth grade. The school’s director, Carrie Bryant, is the mother of Taylor and Huffman.
“You never expect something like this to happen,” Bryant said at the memorial, which was held at the park. “Who would’ve thought we would be here dealing with the death of my child? When you lose your child, you really lost something.”
“These babies are not going to want to go back to that park,” Huffman said. “That was our park. Our park. Now what are we going to do?”