Basketball legend Gene Ransom dies in California highway shooting

Gene Ransom, legend of the basketball, was shot to death in a suspected road rage incident along a California highway, according to his family.

The 65-year-old, recognized as one of the best point guards in California basketball history, was found dead behind the wheel of his car on Interstate 880 on Friday night.

The CHP (California Highway Patrol) said officers arrested Juan Angel Garcia, 25, on suspicion of murder around 10 a.m. Saturday morning.

Authorities have not released the identity of the victim to the public, but friends and family confirmed to KPIX that it was the Hall of Famer and revealed that he was driving to pick up his girlfriend at the time he was killed.

The Independent has contacted the California Highway Patrol to confirm.

Police said CHP officers received reports of a single-vehicle crash on Interstate 880 in Oakland around 5 p.m. Friday.

Upon arrival at the scene they found a man with a fatal gunshot wound inside a black Honda Civic on the road.

Investigators said they believe Ransom was traveling north on the highway when Garcia pulled up on his left side in a black Lexus and opened fire.

The victim was shot at least once and his car swerved into a guardrail before coming to a complete stop on the road, police said.

Police said they believe the shooting was intentional and the motive appeared to be road rage.

Ransome’s friend and former teammate Doug Harris told KPIX The 65-year-old man was on his way to pick up his girlfriend at the West Oakland BART station when the shooting occurred.

He said that she waited for him for hours “without knowing that he had been murdered.”

Harris described his friend as “a heroic figure loved by all” who worked with children for years to try 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,” he said.

The Berkeley High Athletic Department and Cal Athletics paid tribute to the basketball star.

“We are very shocked and saddened. We extend our support to Gene’s family and friends,” BHS Athletics tweeted.

Cal Athletics described him as “one of the best players” in its history.

“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,” he 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 the history of our men’s basketball course and he will be sorely missed.”

Ransom rose to fame in the 1970s when, despite standing just 5 feet 9 inches tall, he scored more than 1,000 points as a point guard for the University of California Berkley Golden Bears.

He started all three of his seasons with the team and scored at least 30 points in multiple games averaging 14.8 points over 80 games.

In one game in 1977, he played for more than 63 minutes and scored 36 points that led the Bears to victory.

In 1979, he was drafted by the Golden State Warriors but never played an NBA game.

He was inducted into the Golden Bears sports hall of fame in 2001.

Ransom’s death is just the latest in a string of shootings on California highways in recent months.

Last month, Alameda County Sheriff’s Office recruit David Nguyen was shot to death on a stretch of Interstate 580 while driving home from the academy.

That incident came after Jasper Wu, a boy, was killed by a stray bullet while sleeping in his mother’s car along Interstate 880 in November.

The 23-month-old was about to celebrate his second birthday next month and meet his father for the first time after his parents had been separated by covid-19 travel restrictions from the United States.

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Basketball legend Gene Ransom dies in California highway shooting