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UPDATE: Suspect Arrested in Fatal Freeway Shooting of Cal Hoops Star Gene Ransom

OAKLAND (CBS SF/AP) -- Gene Ransom, one of the greatest point guards in Cal basketball history and a member of the Golden Bears sports hall of fame, was the victim of a fatal freeway shooting on Interstate 880 in Oakland, a family member confirmed to KPIX on Saturday.

California Highway Patrol officers responded to a solo-vehicle crash on northbound I-880 just north of Oak Street Friday evening. Upon arrival, they determined the male victim in the crash had suffered a fatal gunshot wound.

Officers immediately shut down the northbound lanes for almost five hours and launched an investigation.

The investigation identified a suspect, Juan Angel Garcia, age 25, of San Francisco, and officers took him into custody without incident Saturday at 10 a.m., according to a CHP statement.

Garcia was booked into Alameda County Jail on suspicion of murder.

Gene Ransom
Gene Ransom. (via CalBears.com)

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 occurred.

"'Where is Gene at? You know, I've been waiting for him for three hours!'" recalled Doug Harris, a filmmaker, former teammate and long-time friend of Ransom. "So [Ransom's girlfriend] was waiting for him to pick her up and not knowing that he had been murdered."

CHP investigators said the motive appeared to be road rage and the shooting was targeted. They said Ransom was in a black Honda Civic and Garcia 25-year-old was traveling north on I-880 in a black Lexus.

As they neared downtown Oakland, investigators said Garcia pulled up to the left of Ransom and fired into his car, hitting him at least once.

The CHP said Ransom hit a guardrail and came to a stop on the freeway. He died in the car.

"I was in total disbelief. I didn't believe it. I couldn't fathom that I lost somebody that was so close to me," Harris said. "Gene was a heroic figure that was loved by everyone."

Ransom was an East Bay hoops legend while at Berkeley High School and went on to star at Cal in the late 1970s.

Standing 5-feet-9, Ransom averaged 14.8 points per game and dished off 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 in the Golden Bears' 107-102 five-overtime victory over Oregon on Feb. 10, 1977.

He was signed by the Golden State Warriors in 1979 but was cut in the preseason.

"Pound for pound and, for a guy 5 foot 9, Gene was the greatest high school -- and I want to say -- college basketball player that I have ever witnessed," Harris said.

Cal Athletics assistant director of communications Gerrit Van Genderen issued this statement Saturday afternoon:

"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. 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 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, in the last 20 years, he and Ransom had been coaching basketball and working with kids to get them away from gun violence.

"The very thing that we worked so hard for is what took him away. It's really tough for me as I reflect back," Harris said.

KPIX spoke to Ransom's girlfriend and his son. They said they were dealing with a lot of pain and weren't ready to speak publicly. They said they were feeling a sense of relief that investigators had arrested someone for the murder.

Gene Ransom was 65 years old.

Friday night's incident was among several freeway shootings in Oakland. An Alameda County sheriff's recruit was fatally shot on Interstate 580 on Jan. 4 as he drove home from the academy. Authorities said David V. Nguyen, 28, was set to graduate from the academy this month.

In November, a 23-month-old toddler from Fremont was killed by a stray bullet while his family traveled south on I-880 in Oakland. Also in November, a passenger in an SUV that was traveling on I-80 in Oakland was killed during a shooting on the freeway near the Bay Bridge toll plaza.

The office of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf released a statement regarding the shooting. It read in part, "The loss of life due to gun violence is a tragedy for the family and friends of gene ransom and our entire community. The mayor will be relentless in her pursuit of state resources to install cameras with privacy protections at on and off ramps that can assist investigations such as these and ultimately hold those accountable who act with such heinous disregard for human life."

CHP Golden Gate Division detectives ask that anyone with information about the incident contact them at the CHP investigation tip line: (707) 917-4491.

© Copyright 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press and Bay City News contributed to this report

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