Crime - Sacto 911

Marysville boxing coach slain in front of son; ex-student held

Marysville police are investigating the death of a local boxing club operator and coach who was shot in front of his 8-year-old son Wednesday night.

Sgt. John Osbourn said officers responded shortly before 9 p.m. to a report of shots fired in the 400 block of Willow Street and arrived to find a man, identified as 43-year-old Taj Fields, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Fields was taken by ambulance to Rideout Regional Medical Center, where he died.

Osbourn said the suspect was identified as Roman Zarate, 28, a boxer who had trained with Fields. Zarate was arrested about 9:30 a.m. Thursday in Fresno. Osbourn said Zarate was taken into custody without incident and was transported to Marysville.

Osbourn said the motive is under investigation.

According to online posts, Fields, a former boxer with Junior Olympics and Golden Gloves titles, founded the Hit Squad Boxing Center in 2004 to provide a safe, positive environment for youths in the community through boxing.

The Marysville Appeal-Democrat reported that Fields was shot outside the door of his business and that he yelled to his son, telling him where to move so he wouldn’t be struck. The boy, who was unharmed, ran around the corner to Casino Marysville for help.

Fields was apparently training his son to fight. On his gym’s Facebook page, a photo show Fields in his son’s corner, with a post saying the boy had won a silver medal in the Northern California Junior Olympics Boxing Championships.

The Appeal-Democrat reported that Zarate was a 2009 Northern California Golden Gloves champion who trained under Fields.

A photo of Zarate and Fields on the gym’s Facebook page includes a caption that reads: “Hit Squad Boxing Centers own Golden Gloves Champion; Roman “Maravilla” Zarate and Ca. Diamond Belt Champion Eliacer “Chey” Gonzalez w/ Coach Taj. I love it when my guys come back in and give back to their community. PROUD OF YOU!”

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy