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Arrest made in killing of Cal Bears basketball great Gene Ransom

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A 25-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of homicide in the fatal freeway shooting of UC Berkeley basketball star Gene Ransom, authorities said.

Juan Angel Garcia, of San Francisco, was arrested Saturday in connection with the death of Ransom, 65, authorities said. The motive for the shooting is still under investigation.

On Friday night, California Highway Patrol officers in Oakland responded to a vehicle crash on northbound Interstate 880 and found the victim, later identified as Ransom, suffering from a gunshot wound in his car, authorities said. He died at the scene.

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Ransom had been traveling in a black Honda Civic north on I-880 when San Francisco resident Juan Angel Garcia is alleged to have driven to the left of Ransom’s vehicle and shot at him at least once, according to preliminary information provided by CHP.

After he was shot, Ransom veered to the right and struck a guardrail, coming to a stop, according to the CHP. Garcia immediately fled the scene.

On Saturday morning, Garcia was taken into custody without incident. He was booked into the Alameda County Jail on suspicion of homicide, according to CHP.

As news of Ransom’s death spread, his former teammates and family remembered his legacy as a star player for the California Golden Bears.

UC Berkeley responded with this statement: “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.”

Inducted into the California Athletics Hall of Fame in 2001, Ransom was described as one of the great point guards in Cal history. He held the Cal record for most minutes played in a game when he “went an amazing 63.5 minutes in Cal’s five-overtime win over Oregon on Feb. 10, 1977, scoring 36 points in that game,” according to the Hall of Fame’s website.

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At the time he graduated in 1979, he ranked fifth on Cal’s career assist chart with 356 and led the Bears in steals with 2.3 per game in 1977-78, according to the website.

In a statement provided to KGO-TV Channel 7, his son Thaxter Ransom said he will always love his father.

“My father was and still is a great man,” Thaxter Ransom said. “He was 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. 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.”

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