Los Angeles police were searching for a suspect who allegedly ran down a father of three in San Pedro after a confrontation Friday, April 24, authorities said.
The incident occurred about 4 p.m. in the 3600 block of South Carolina Place, Los Angeles Police Department Detective Dave Cortez said.
The victim, 58-year-old Nuusoliafaifunaina Tuimoloau or “Tui” for short, was a beloved member of the community who volunteered his time mentoring students at Carson High School, said Tammy Bird, Tuimoloau’s common-law wife.
Police arrived and found Tuimoloau on the ground, Cortez said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Witnesses told police he was confronted by another man in a vehicle while he was walking in the alley, Cortez said. At some point, the suspect ran him over and fled southbound.
Tuimoloau and his son were on their way to visit his mother. He was confronted while he walked to his vehicle, where his son was waiting for him, Cortez said.
Bird, a science teacher at Carson High, said she had no idea who would want to hurt her husband.
“Tui” had a passion for education. He played football at Venice High School and Humboldt State University, where he majored in linguistics before earning a job as a counselor at the university and then College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, she said.
He was fluent in Samoan, German and Russian, Bird said.
He would eventually return to his native Samoa and open an elementary school in 2003, she said, before coming back to the states to be with his two younger children.
And for the past 13 years, he would accompany Bird to Carson High, where he would volunteer his time in helping students, during which time he helped Bird and her students start and maintain a miniature farm on the northeast side of campus.
“He just had a complete heart of gold and what he does for the community and what he does for people was just amazing,” Bird said. “I’m having a really hard time understanding why someone would do this.”
Bird met Tuimoloau in 1978 while the two attended Venice High School. They reconnected and had been together for 12 years, she said.
“We got tattoos on our right arms because he was the right man for me and I was the right woman for him,” she said. “We were partners for life.”
Bird had plans to retire from teaching so the two could move to Hawaii, where they had plans to build a sustainable farm to try to bring kids out on scholarship, she said. Of his three children, two are still in high school – a senior and a junior – Bird said.
Many of the people Tuimoloau helped along the way would call him to catch up, she said.
“He was deeply rooted in the community,” Cortez said. “Everybody knew him throughout the community and he was like a father to a lot of the kids.”
Police were investigating the incident as a homicide after witnesses described the act as intentional, Cortez said.
Witnesses told police the suspect was driving a light-colored vehicle, but a description of the suspect was not available.