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Gene Ransom, one of the best point guards in Cal basketball history and a member of the Golden Bears sports hall of fame, was the victim of a fatal shooting on Interstate 880 in Oakland, a family member confirmed to KPIX on Thursday. Saturday.
California Highway Patrol officers responded to a car accident on northbound I-880, just north of Oak Street, Friday night. Upon arrival, they determined that the male victim in the crash had suffered a fatal gunshot wound.
Officers immediately closed the northbound lanes for nearly five hours and began an investigation.
The investigation identified a suspect, Juan Angel Garcia, 25, of San Francisco, and officers took him into custody without incident at 10 a.m. Saturday, according to a CHP statement.
Garcia was booked into the Alameda County Jail on suspicion of murder.
A friend said Ransom was on his way to pick up his girlfriend at the West Oakland BART station around 5:15 p.m. Friday when the shooting happened.
“‘Where’s Gene? I’ve been waiting for it for three hours!’” recalled Doug Harris, a filmmaker, former teammate and longtime friend of Ransom. “So (Ransom’s girlfriend) was waiting for him to pick her up and not knowing she had been killed.”
CHP investigators said the motive appeared to be road rage and that the shooting was targeted. They said Ransom was in a black Honda Civic and Garcia, 25, was traveling north on I-880 in a black Lexus.
As they approached downtown Oakland, investigators said Garcia pulled over to Ransom’s left and fired into Ransom’s car, hitting him at least once.
“I was in total disbelief. I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t imagine losing someone so close to me,” Harris said. “Gene was a heroic figure that everyone loved.”
Ransom was an East Bay hoop legend while at Berkeley High School and later starred in Cal in the late 1970s.
Standing 5-foot-9, Ransom averaged 14.8 points per game and dished out 356 assists during his three-year playing career at Cal. In his most memorable college performance, Ransom played 63.5 minutes and scored a career-high 36 points. of his career, in the Golden Bears’ 107-102 five-overtime victory over Oregon on February 10, 1977.
He was signed by the Golden State Warriors in 1979 but was released in the preseason.
“Pound for pound and, for a 5-foot-9 guy, Gene was the best high school, and I mean college, basketball player I’ve ever witnessed,” Harris said.
Cal Athletics Deputy Director of Communications Gerrit Van Genderen issued this statement on Saturday afternoon:
“We are shocked to hear reports that Cal Athletics Hall of Famer Gene Ransom has been identified as a victim in a deadly freeway shooting. Our thoughts are with Gene’s family and friends for this tragic loss. Gene was one of the greatest players in the history of our men’s basketball program and he will be greatly missed.”
Ransom also tried his hand at baseball, spending three years in the Oakland A’s minor league system. Ransom went on to coach basketball at his alma mater.
Harris said that, for the past 20 years, he and Ransom had been coaching basketball and working with kids to steer them away from gun violence.
“The very thing we worked so hard for is what took him away. It’s really hard for me when I think about it,” Harris said.
KPIX spoke with Ransom’s girlfriend and his son. They said that they were dealing with a lot of pain and that they were not ready to speak in public. They said they felt a sense of relief that investigators had arrested someone for the murder.
Gene Ransom was 65 years old.
Friday night’s incident was one of several freeway shootings in Oakland. An Alameda County sheriff’s recruit was fatally shot on Interstate 580 on Jan. 4 while he was driving home from the academy. Authorities said David V. Nguyen, 28, would graduate from the academy this month.
In November, a 23-month-old Fremont boy was killed by a stray bullet while his family was traveling south on I-880 in Oakland. Also in November, a passenger in an SUV traveling on I-80 in Oakland was killed during a shooting on the freeway near the Bay Bridge toll plaza.
CHP Golden Gate Division detectives request that anyone with information about the incident contact them at the CHP Investigative Tip Line: (707) 917-4491.