OAKLAND, Calif. - Gene Ransom, the beloved UC Berkeley basketball legend, was killed Friday evening in a freeway shooting along I-880 in Oakland, according to his close friends. Saturday morning, California Highway Patrol arrested the suspected gunman.
Juan Angel Garcia, 25, of San Francisco, was booked in Alameda County jail, suspected of killing Ransom, who has not been identified by the Alameda County coroner, though close friends of Ransom tell KTVU Ransom was the man who was killed. Garcia will be arraigned on February 9.
"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."
Todd Walker, who knew Ransom and his siblings from childhood, remembers him as "Gene the Dream," a kid who stood 5'9", and made hoops history playing for Berkeley High School in the 1970's.
"It just makes you want to just cry all day long," Walker said of Ransom's violent death.
From 1975-78, Ransom owned the court, racking up 1,185 points in his three years starting for Cal. Ransom was inducted into the Cal Athletics Hall of Fame in 2001.
That same year, Ransom coached Berkeley High School's boy's basketball team. Kevin McGlothen was a freshman on the team.
"He was basically like the big brother, and then to some of us, father figures during that year," McGlothen recalled.
In his junior year of high school, McGlothen played for Reach Your Goals, a Berkeley community team that Ransom co-founded with the goal of shaping young athletes through basketball and community service. McGlothen stayed close with Ransom through the years.
"He would always give us that big hug, he would wrap [his] arms around you," McGlothen said. "He's small in stature, but he's a strong man. He got big hands...When he wrapped his arms around you, you knew that it was love."