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Fmr. USC Basketball Player Murdered

August 28, 2001

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A high school basketball star from New Jersey who played for Southern California was found shot to death and her boss at a youth counseling center, a former LAPD officer, was arrested for murder, police said Tuesday.

Audrey Gomez, 28, of Los Angeles was found shot twice in the chest and covered with a blanket in her car at Murphy Ranch Park in Whittier around 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

Early Sunday, police arrested Angela M. Shepard, 37, of Whittier, Whittier Police spokesman Alan dela Pena said. She was booked for investigation of murder and was scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday.

Shepard was the program director at the Girls and Boys Town facility in mid-city Los Angeles, and Gomez reported to her as the dayshift supervisor, said Jack Sheehan, national director of public relations for the nonprofit organization.

Shepard worked as a Los Angeles Police Department patrol officer from August 1989 through December 1995, LAPD Sgt. John Pasquariello said. She was fired, but Pasquariello declined to disclose why, saying it was a confidential personnel matter.

Police would not comment Tuesday on what type of relationship Gomez and Shepard had outside of work. The motive for the shooting remained under investigation although it apparently followed an argument, dela Pena said.

News of the shooting stunned co-workers at the center that serves a few dozen troubled youths, Sheehan said. Shepard had worked at Girls and Boys Town since 1998, and Gomez for 13 months.

``We were all completely blown away by this. This was shocking,″ Sheehan said. ``I’m telling you truthfully there was no indication on the job that there was any relationship between the two, or any friction.″

Gomez was the leading career scorer at St. John Vianney H.S. in Homdel, N.J. She graduated in 1991 and went on to Notre Dame, then transferred to USC after two seasons.

A 5-foot-9 point guard, Gomez was a part-time starter during the 1994-95 season at USC. A knee injury after her junior year derailed her basketball career. Her younger sister Erica played at UCLA.

The shooting apparently took place Friday night at Shepard’s home about four miles from Murphy Ranch Park, dela Pena said. Neighbors reported hearing gunshots between 11 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.

Shepard then allegedly drove Gomez’s car to the park and abandoned it in the parking lot with Gomez’s body in the back seat. A park warden spotted the car around 6 a.m. Saturday. When he noticed it was still there more than seven hours later he looked inside, saw the body and called police.

A Los Angeles County sheriff’s bloodhound led police from the car directly to Shepard’s home, dela Pena said, and fingerprints on the car matched Shepard’s. Police confiscated handguns from Shepard’s home.

Detectives were continuing their investigation Tuesday.

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