Nathen Crocket Taylor was a former Sergeant in the U.S. Army. His eight years of service included three tours of duty, twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. After completing his last deployment about two years ago, Taylor moved back to Lancaster to be with his family and enrolled at Antelope Valley College where he was studying to be a Computer Software Engineer.
Those aspirations were cut short on Saturday, April 21, when Taylor was shot to death in his car outside of his brother’s home at 733 West Avenue H-7, in Lancaster. Around 12:30 a.m., several men walked up to the car, one gunman fired several rounds into the vehicle, and then the men ran away, according to a news release issued by the Sheriff’s Department on the day of the murder.
Family members who spoke at the two-hour memorial service Friday said they were still struggling to cope with Taylor’s death. They described Taylor as the strength and the rock of the family and said Taylor was constantly striving to be better and to get those around him to strive for better, as well.
“Anything that I wanted to accomplish, he was my biggest motivator,” said younger brother, Patrick Taylor. “If I was to do anything wrong, he would still let me know that he was by my side… even when I had no one to talk to, when I couldn’t go to my parents, I would talk to my brother like he was my dad.”
“His dedication to wanting to be a better man was one of the reasons why I fell in love with him,” said fiancé Tiffany Tillman. “He was a great listener and had a great attitude about life.”
“Nathen brought a little piece of heaven down and he was true to his family,” said mother Bonni Snydle.
Officials have not identified a motive for Taylor’s shooting, and so far no suspects have been arrested in connection with the incident.
After Taylor’s memorial service, family members again appealed to the community for information that would lead to those responsible for their loved one’s murder.
“People don’t shoot somebody in the way that my brother was shot and not speak up about it and tell somebody,” said sister Rachel Taylor. “If you know something, come forward.”
Rachel Taylor said her brother should be remembered for his service to his country, not for how he was murdered.
“Research my brother’s name; that is the legacy… “ Rachel Taylor said. “and for him to come out of this community, they should be damn proud.”
George Taylor said his son’s strong record of military service makes it especially hard for the family to cope with how he was taken away.
“I’d rather see him lose his life in the middle of combat fighting for his country than to come here, in the country that he fought for and loves, and be killed on the streets,” said George Taylor.
George Taylor said he would like to see a “Violence Against Veterans” act that would command the judicial system to treat people who kill veterans in the same manner as people who kill first responders.
“You end up taking the life of a first responder, and the judge knows he’s a first responder, you will get the maximum they can give you,” George Taylor said. “I believe each and every veteran that serves this country should be looked at in that same light.”
George Taylor also had a message for his son’s killer.
“I truly do believe law enforcement will get you. These people have told me they will do the best that they can on this case and I do believe they will do it,” George Taylor said. “They’re going to bring you to justice… for you’ve taken something from the community that they loved and adored.”
Anyone with information regarding the shooting death of Nathen Taylor is encouraged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. To give anonymous tips, call “Crime Stoppers” at (800) 222-TIPS (8477).
Taylor’s family has established a memorial fund. Those wishing to make a donation can visit any Antelope Valley Bank branch and request to donate funds to the Memorial Fund for Former Army Sgt. Nathen Taylor. Wire transfers or donations from out of state can also be made using the following routing account and savings account numbers – 122003396(routing #) and 3010473552 (savings acct #).
Nathen C. Taylor is survived by mother Bonnie Snydle; father George Taylor; daughter Alexis Taylor; fiance Tiffany Tillman; sisters Kinnzie, Rachel, Kalein and Marcela Taylor; brother Patrick Taylor; and many aunts, uncles, nephews and cousins.