Family and friends had only praise for a Cal State Fullerton coach and her fiance Monday, a day after the recently engaged college sweethearts were found fatally shot in the parking structure of their condominium near UC Irvine.
The bodies of Monica Quan, an assistant women’s basketball coach, and Keith Lawrence, who worked as a campus officer at USC, were discovered Sunday night in their parked car on the top floor of the parking structure at the upscale, high-security condominium complex.
They were each shot multiple times, and authorities said they have tentatively ruled out the possibility of the crime being a murder-suicide or motivated by robbery.
Those that knew the couple said they were shaken by the news.
Marcia Foster, the head basketball coach at Cal State Fullerton, described her assistant as a special person: “bright, passionate and empowering.”
“I’m sorry we’re gathered here today for news like this,” Foster said at a campus news conference Monday. "There just aren’t words.”
Friends said Quan shared a love of basketball with Lawrence, whom she met at Concordia University in Irvine, where the two played basketball. A tweet from Concordia on Monday described the two as “incredible alum.”
Lawrence was a standout player, both at Concordia, where he helped lead his team to the 2007 NAIA national championship game, and at Moorpark High, where he was a starter.
Tim Bednar, who coached Lawrence at Moorpark, said the point guard and shooting guard came from a family of athletes, was talented, yet quiet and humble. After Lawrence graduated in 2003, he continued to participate in summer youth camps.
When he returned for the camps, Bednar said, he was known as the “best basketball player that ever came through” the school.
“He was awesome with the kids,” Bednar said. “They all wanted to be around Keith Lawrence.”
Lawrence’s friends and family put up a Facebook page. “RIP Keith Lawrence, you will be missed,” it said. Within hours, 840 people had left comments or indicated they “liked” it. Concordia put up a link to Lawrence’s game-winning shot that carried the school into a post-season tournament.
Michelle Thibeault, 27, said in a Facebook message that she had known Quan for more than a decade. The two were on the same athletic teams and went to junior high and high school together. “Monica was loved by everyone,” she said.
During a somber gathering at the Cal State Fullerton gymnasium Monday, Foster read a brief statement from Quan’s brother, Ryan.
“We just shared a moment of incredible joy on her recent engagement,” he wrote, and then added: “A bright light was just put out.”
About 40 people later gathered at Walnut High School to remember Quan, whose aunt described her as “vivacious and energetic.”
“Monica is like the daughter we never had,” Nicki Lew said.
This story was reported by Lauren Williams and Times Staff Writers Nicole Santa Cruz and Kate Mather.