UC Berkeley basketball legend Gene Ransom killed in highway shooting
The California Highway Patrol said the victim appears to have been targeted in a road rage incident
Family and friends of Gene Ransom are speaking out and sharing fond memories of the UC Berkeley basketball legend after he was fatally shot while traveling on Interstate 880 in Oakland, Calif., on Friday.
According to California Highway Patrol’s Oakland division, a motorist in a black Lexus sedan pulled up to the left of Ransom’s Honda Civic and opened fire, the agency said in a statement shared on Facebook.
Ransom was struck at least once, causing him to veer his Honda sedan and crash into a guardrail, the highway patrol said in a statement, theGrio reported.
Juan Angel Garcia, 25, was arrested and taken into custody for first-degree murder on Saturday morning. He is reportedly being held without bail at the Alameda County Santa Rita Jail.
Garcia is scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday, PEOPLE reports.
In a statement, Thaxter Ransom, Ransom’s son, called his father “a great man” who had “a major influence in the East Bay Area community.”
“He showed love to everyone he met and came across sometimes as a flirt. That was him, Gene ‘the dream’ Ransom,” said Thaxter. “He opened the door for future basketball stars who came out of the Bay Area. He was looked up to and loved by many. I’ll never forget him, and will always love him.”
As reported by The Associated Press, Ransom was a basketball star at the University of California, Berkeley in the 1970s and a member of the Cal Athletics Hall of Fame. He was signed by the Golden State Warriors in 1979 but was cut in the preseason.
“We are shocked to hear the reports that Cal Athletics Hall of Famer Gene Ransom has been identified as a victim in a deadly freeway shooting,” Cal Athletics said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with Gene’s family and friends for this tragic loss. Gene was one of the greatest players in our men’s basketball program’s history, and he will be greatly missed.”
Ransom was on his way to pick up his girlfriend at a West Oakland train station, said Doug Harris, a former teammate, and longtime friend.
Harris told KPIX-TV in San Francisco that the woman waited for Ransom for hours, “not knowing that he had been murdered.”
Highway patrol investigators said Ransom was likely targeted and the motive appeared to be road rage. Northbound lanes of I-880 were shut for about five hours during the investigation.
“I just remember Gene being ultracompetitive. That was his thing,” said former Cal guard John Caselli, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle. “He was relentless. He pushed the ball up the court and just pushed, pushed, pushed.”
“When he would step on the court, he was the strongest player, combined with incredible quickness,” said Barry Fike, a retired Berkeley schoolteacher. “He could blow by anybody and had amazing peripheral vision. He was the most amazing passer and playmaker that I’ve ever seen either in high school or college.”
“He was a great teammate, a great passer and a great guy,” Caselli added. “You’d watch how hard he’d play because of his size, and it would make you play better.”
Oakland-based writer Kevin Sweeney watched Ransom through his three seasons, and described him as “electric.”
“There was also something fierce about him,” he added.
An investigation into Ransom’s killing is ongoing.
This article contains additional reporting from The Associated Press.
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