21 Aug 2014
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Former Long Beach State Athlete Found Murdered

One-time basketball star Monica Quan was found slain beside her boyfriend in a car outside their Irvine apartment in what police are investigating as a double murder.

Former Long Beach State Athlete Found Murdered

Authorities today released the names of an engaged couple—an aspiring cop working as a USC public safety officer, and a former CSULB star and college basketball coach—who were found shot to death in his car outside their Irvine residence.

The victims were identified Monday as Keith Lawrence, 27, and Monica Quan, 28. The couple were discovered atop the parking garage of their apartment building, and police released no statement about motive. Both victims had law enforcement ties: Lawrence had graduated from a police academy and Quan's father is an LAPD officer.

Quan was mourned Monday  by colleagues at Cal State Fullerton, where she was a coach. Quan had played on Cal State Long Beach's women's basketball team several years ago and the current coach, Jody Wynn, knew Quan, said CSULB spokesman Rick Gloady.

Wynn had "interviewed her for an assistant coaching position," Gloady said. 

Police received a call at 9:10 p.m. Sunday about a person slumped over in a parked car at 2100 Scholarship and went to investigate, Irvine police Lt. Julia Engen said. Lawrence and Quan were found dead in his Kia, which was parked at the top of the five-story parking structure, Engen said.

"Their deaths are being investigated as a double homicide,'' she said. "There is no suspect information at this time.'' There's no evidence they were being robbed, Engen said.

The parking structure and high-density residential community is highly secure with key-card access only, she said. Irvine had two slayings last year and the year before that, according to Engen, who said overall violent crime is at "historic lows'' in the city.

Quan was an assistant coach for the Cal State Fullerton women's basketball team, and before that was an assistant coach at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks.

"She was one of those great individuals that when they're in your life, your life is better,'' said California Lutheran women's basketball head coach Roy Dow. "She had a great passion for basketball.''

Dow recalled how he would get calls from Quan when she was away from work about a unique play she saw during a game on TV or to tell him a documentary was being aired about the University of Connecticut women's basketball team. Quan's father told Dow recently about how she was so intent on watching a game that when she went out to dribble the basketball during commercial breaks, "she'd watch the TV through the screen door.''

Quan rooted for the Lakers, but was a big Michael Jordan fan and had an "incredible collection of Nike sneakers,'' Dow said. When they would take recruits around campus, Dow would stay on the campus sidewalks because Quan "was absolutely loathe to walk on the grass and get her sneakers dirty,'' the coach recalled.

He said Quan called him about a week ago to tell him about her engagement to Lawrence. "She was a very private person, and she told me she didn't want me to hear it through the grapevine,'' Dow said.

The couple met while at Concordia University in Irvine, where they both played basketball, Dow said. Lawrence was seeking a career in law enforcement, which made him a good match for Quan, whose father was an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department, Dow said. He said it was Quan who recruited the current seniors on the California Lutheran team. "I don't know what we're going to tell them,'' Dow said of the team.

"We'll allow everyone an opportunity to express their grief. But we're certainly going forward. We're going to find our way to grieve and celebrate her life.''

Lawrence, who graduated from the Ventura County Sheriff's Academy, was working as a patrol officer at USC's Department of Public Safety. He joined the department in August, said USC spokesman Carl Marziali. John Thomas, the chief of USC's Department of Public Safety, issued a statement to his officers today, calling the murders "senseless'' and asking for their "thoughts and prayers'' for the victims' families and friends.

"During his brief tenure of service here at USC, Officer Lawrence proved to be an honorable, compassionate and professional member of our department and the Trojan family,'' Thomas said. "We are a better department and the USC campus community is a safer place as a result of his service.''

Mildred Garcia, Cal State Fullerton's president, characterized the deaths as "tragic and heart-wrenching.'' Quan was in her second season working under Coach Marcia Foster, who said, "There really are no words to convey the sadness we feel at the loss, those of us who have had the privilege of working with her. We had just shared a moment of incredible joy with Monica after her recent engagement.'' Foster added, "A really bright light was put out way too soon.

"Someone whose passion was impacting young women with the game of basketball. As an assistant, she was someone I counted on to tell me the truth. I loved that about her—I loved her work ethic and her passion for life," Foster continued. "We've got some work to do; we've got to do something to stop this violence. Too many women are being impacted by it.''

Cal State Fullerton Athletic Director Jim Donovan said, "We were very shocked and saddened to learn what's happened to Monica. She was a second-year coach for us and a very special person.''

Quan, a star athlete at Walnut High School, played basketball at Cal State Long Beach from 2003-05 before transferring to Concordia University in Irvine, where she graduated in 2007 with a degree in exercise and sports science. In 2009, she earned a master's degree.

--City News Service contributed to this report

Correction: CSULB Women's Basketball Coach Jody Wynn's first name was originally incorrectly written as Nancy.

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