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'The Shield' actor Michael Jace charged in wife's shooting death

By Alan Duke, CNN
updated 10:51 PM EDT, Tue May 20, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: No known domestic violence between Jace and his wife, LAPD says
  • Jace was under financial stress, fighting to keep his home, court docs say
  • Jace called 911 to report his wife was shot, a detective says
  • Playing an LAPD detective in "The Shield" is Jace's biggest and longest-running role

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Michael Jace, who played a Los Angeles cop in TV's "The Shield," has been arrested in the fatal shooting of his wife, police said Tuesday.

Police found April Jace, 40, shot to death in her south Los Angeles home Monday night, Los Angeles Police Det. Lyman Doster said.

Michael Jace, 51, called 911 to report that his wife had been shot, Det. Dean Vinluan said, adding that he "was on the phone with the operator." Neighbors who heard gunshots also called 911, he said.

Actor Michael Jace, right, has been arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of his wife, April. Jace formerly appeared on the hit FX show "The Shield." His case is the latest of many shocking crimes in the showbiz world: Actor Michael Jace, right, has been arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of his wife, April. Jace formerly appeared on the hit FX show "The Shield." His case is the latest of many shocking crimes in the showbiz world:
Shocking showbiz crimes
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"At this moment, the motive of the murder is believed to be domestic violence," a police statement said.

'Shield' actor charged in wife's death

Investigators detained Jace at the couple's Hyde Park-area home Monday night and booked the actor on a homicide charge early Tuesday, according to Doster.

Jace was booked into a Los Angeles jail with bail set at $1 million.

CNN has been unable to find the name of any lawyer Jace may have hired to defend him in this homicide case. He is not expected to appear in court before Thursday, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney said.

Two children were in the home when their mother was shot, Vinluan said. The children, whose ages he would not reveal, were taken to a police station and then handed over to a representative of California's Department of Children and Family Services, he said.

Investigators have found no reports of domestic violence between the husband and wife at their south Los Angeles residence, LAPD Det. Iasparro said.

A woman described as a close friend of his first wife said in a sworn statement that she witnessed Jace physically abusing his wife in 1997. The declaration was in court records from Jace's 2005 custody case concerning his son with Jennifer Bitterman.

Jace "choked and hit" his wife and "slammed her against the wall while (their infant son) screamed in his crib next to her," Maria De Le Vegas said in the sworn declaration obtained by CNN.

Jace "was raging and out of control, and seeing the extent of his anger was one of the most terrifying things I have ever seen," she said.

Jace appeared to be suffering severe financial strain in recent years, according to court documents obtained by CNN. The actor filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in March 2011, citing $500,000 in debts and an annual income of around $80,000 from residuals from his TV and film work, the documents said.

Jace had defaulted on the $411,000 mortgage on the south Los Angeles home where his wife died, according to the documents. His bankruptcy case is still active, according to his lawyer.

He married April Jace in June 2003, a year after divorcing his first wife, with whom he shared a son who is now a teen.

The FX police drama "The Shield" was the biggest and longest-running role in Jace's 22-year acting career. He appeared in 89 episodes as Julien Lowe, who started as a rookie officer in an inner-city Los Angeles police precinct in 2002 and rose through the ranks to become a detective before the series ended in 2008, according to the Internet Movie Database.

He acted on several episodes of "Southland," another TV drama about Los Angeles police, between 2009 and 2012.

Jace often played a law enforcement or military officer on television shows. He is credited with roles in "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "Private Practice," "The Mentalist," "Burn Notice" and "NYPD Blue."

He had the title role of Michael Jordan in the 1999 TV movie about the NBA star, "Michael Jordan: An American Hero."

Jace played Officer Brown in Russell Crowe's 2009 film "State of Play," and he portrayed a Black Panther member in the 1994 blockbuster movie "Forrest Gump."

April Jace had worked for the past year as a financial aid counselor at Biola University, a private school in La Mirada, California, according to the school.

"We are obviously shocked and saddened by this terrible news, to lose a wonderful colleague, mother and friend," Biola President Barry Corey said in a written statement.

"April's radiant personality brought great energy to the financial aid office," financial aid director Geoff Marsh said. "Her love for helping students and families and her great work ethic earned the respect and love of her coworkers. Her smiling face and helpful spirit will be missed by all."

Photos: Shocking Hollywood crimes

CNN's Dottie Evans and Selin Darkalstanian contributed to this report.

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