COMPTON >> Authorities offered a $20,000 reward Wednesday in connection with the fatal January shooting of a Pasadena city employee and aspiring firefighter believed to have been gunned down by gang members in a case of mistaken identity.
Tauruson McMillian, 34, of Cerritos died in a car-to-car shooting about 6:40 p.m. Jan. 4 at Wilmington and Rosecrans avenues, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said. Homicide detectives believe he may have been shot by gang members simply because of the color of his car. His car was red.
McMillian had just left a friend’s house in Compton as he was speaking with his girlfriend on the phone while en route to her home when he was shot, Sgt. John O’Brien of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said. There were no signs of a confrontation before the gunfire.
“He was talking to her about what they were going to have for dinner when the phone went dead,” O’Brien said.
McMillian had no children of his own, but had helped raise his girlfriend Pamela Adel’s twin 10-year-old sons and 16-year-old daughter for the past nine years, Adel said.
He had worked as a sanitation engineer for the Pasadena Department of Public Works for a year and a half, and was also studying fire science at Santa Ana College with a goal of one day becoming a firefighter, she said.
“We remember him for the good-hearted individual he was. His smile, his good-hearted presence,” Adel said. “Let’s keep his memory alive.”
While other theories have not been ruled out, McMillian may have been targeted because he was driving a red Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS on Wilmington Avenue, just north of Rosecrans Avenue, when a car pulled up along the passenger side of his Monte Carlo and someone inside opened fire, O’Brien said.
McMillian was wounded several times in the upper torso, O’Brien said. His car crashed into a tree, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Investigators suspect the red color of the car may have been mistaken for a sign of gang affiliation by his killer or killers.
“We believe it was gang members who fired on him,” Lt. John Corina said. The area where the shooting occurred is known to be inhabited by several street gangs.
But the attacker or attackers were mistaken, Corina said. “He’s not involved in gangs.”
The car from which the shots were fired has been described only as a light-colored sedan, Corina said. No description of the killer or killers was available.
Investigators have talked with some witnesses, but believe there are many others yet to come forward, O’Brien said. Other drivers in traffic were believed to have witnessed the shooting, and the street was busy with people at the time of the shooting, as a nearby church was about to hold a 7 p.m. service.
In hopes of generating new leads in the slaying, officials said, the County of Los Angeles and the city of Compton each put up $10,000 for a total reward amount of $20,000 for information leading to the conviction of his killer or killers.
McMillian’s colleagues in Pasadena remain saddened by his slaying, Pasadena spokesman William Boyer said.
“There were, and there continue to be, condolences expressed on his untimely death,” Boyer said. “We do hope that the reward will perhaps motivate someone to come forward and help solve the case.”
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.
PHOTOS: Homicide victim Taurus McMillian, 34, of Cerritos (courtesy)