'Shield' actor Michael Jace arrested after wife found dead in couple's home
Tami Abdollah and Anthony McCartney, The Associated Press
Published Tuesday, May 20, 2014 7:07AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, May 20, 2014 7:03PM EDT
LOS ANGELES -- Actor Michael Jace, who played a police officer on the hit TV show "The Shield," was arrested Tuesday after calling 911 and telling an operator that he shot his wife, authorities said.
Detectives were investigating whether the couple's financial or other marital difficulties might have played a role in the killing that police said occurred during an argument on Monday night while the couple's two sons, both under 10, were in the house.
Police were unsure if the children had witnessed the argument or gunfire. They were placed in the care of relatives.
The body of April Jace, 40, was found with multiple gunshot wounds in a hallway of the home in the quiet, modest Hyde Park neighbourhood of Los Angeles. Police recovered a handgun believed to belong to her husband, Los Angeles police Detective Dean Vinluan said.
"She came home with the kids and then the dispute happened and the shooting happened," he said.
Michael Jace was seen walking out of the home as officers arrived. He was detained and later arrested.
"We don't know if he came out of fear or was trying to get out of there," Vinluan said.
Jace, 51, is best known for his role as LAPD Officer Julien Lowe in "The Shield." He also appeared on the show "Southland" and had small roles in the movies "Planet of the Apes," "Boogie Nights" and "Forrest Gump."
A printout of the incident history indicated that he had called 911 and told the operator that he had shot his wife, Vinluan said.
Jace was booked on suspicion of homicide, and detectives intend to review the full 911 call from Jace and other calls from neighbours reporting that shots had been fired before he is formally charged.
Calls seeking comment from Jace's agents at SMS Talent were not immediately returned. It could not immediately be determined if he had retained a lawyer.
Vinluan said there had been no previous reports of domestic violence at the home. However, the actor had been under financial pressure in recent years. He declared for bankruptcy in 2011 and had been delinquent on payments as recently as December.
Next-door neighbour Shirley Harding described Michael and April Jace as good, hands-on parents.
"They were just lovely parents," Harding said. "I never heard arguments. I just heard happiness over there."
April Jace had worked as a financial aid counsellor at Biola University, a private Christian school, since March 2013.
"April's radiant personality brought great energy to the financial aid office," Geoff Marsh, senior director of financial aid wrote in a statement. "Her love for helping students and families and her great work ethic earned the respect and love of her co-workers."
Bankruptcy filings in 2011 stated that she had worked as a school teacher for the previous 10 years.
Michael Jace's bankruptcy filing listed debts between $500,000 and $1 million. Much of the debt appeared to be related to his home, with an additional $22,000 owed in state and federal income taxes. More than $20,000 of his tax delinquency was owed to the state of California for the year 2008. He agreed to a payment plan, but had fallen behind as recently as December, records show.
In a statement of his assets, Jace checked a box indicating he didn't own any firearms. There are no records of any criminal cases involving Michael Jace in Los Angeles.
Jace consistently found work in Hollywood but remained mostly a bit player. "The Shield" ended its seven-season run in 2008 after Jace appeared in all but one episode, according to IMDB.com, an Internet movie database.
"He's one of those people whose faces you'd recognize but you don't know their names," said veteran casting director Sheila Manning. "He's a solid actor. Nothing big, but he's a working actor."