Three Southern California universities are mourning the loss of a loved one while trying to make sense of a devastating pair of killings.
Cal State Fullerton women’s basketball assistant coach Monica Quan and her new fiancé, Keith Lawrence, were found shot to death in their car on the rooftop parking garage of their upscale Irvine condominium complex Sunday night.
Quan was found in the front passenger seat and Lawrence was in the driver’s seat, Irvine Police Lt. Julia Engen said. Officers found their bodies after someone reported seeing Lawrence slumped over the wheel of his vehicle.
The news sent shockwaves through Orange County. Quan, 28, and Lawrence, 27, were both former players at Concordia University in Irvine, and had recently moved into the apartment complex, which is considered a safe building in a relatively crime-free area.
Quan, who was in her second season with the Titans, was described as a dedicated coach with a passion for helping young women become not only better basketball players but better people as well.
“A really bright light was put out way too soon,” Fullerton head coach Marcia Foster said. “Somebody whose passion was impacting young women through the game of basketball has been taken away from us in a very unfortunate situation.”
Foster said the couple was newly engaged and enjoying an exciting time in their young lives.
“We just shared a moment of incredible joy with Monica on her recent engagement,” Foster said.
Quan was a four-year letter-winner at Diamond Bar High School and began her collegiate career at Long Beach State. After two seasons there, she transferred to Concordia in 2005, where she and Lawrence began dating while both playing for the school, officials said.
Lawrence was an especially revered player, helping the Eagles advance to the 2007 NAIA championship game when he sank a shot to send the semifinal game into a fourth overtime where they won. He was working as a public safety officer at USC.
Chief John Thomas called Lawrence an ”honorable, compassionate and professional member of our department and The Trojan Family.”
Gary McDaniel, Concordia’s Executive Vice President, said the tight-knit community has been rocked by the news.
“This university is in deep mourning,” McDaniel said in an email. “Monica and Keith were two of the finest Concordia athletes who took very serious their commitment to Concordia University. They were fierce competitors, but always represented the university in a matter fitting a Concordia athlete.
“I am reminded of their integrity, passion for the game, commitment to excellence in the classroom, and above all their commitment to treat all with the respect.”
Early Monday morning, Cal State Fullerton president Mildred García notified the university of the deaths in a campus-wide email. Later on, Athletic Director Jim Donovan spoke.
“We are very shocked and saddened to learn about what happened to Monica,” Donovan said. “I can tell you we’ve been with the team since early this morning and the team and the staff are very, very saddened about what has happened and what we have learned. Our deepest condolences go out to her family and loved ones.”
Grief counselors have been made available to the team and others. The Titans are still scheduled to host UC Riverside on Saturday, though they will take the court with heavy hearts.
“As a second-year assistant for me, she was someone I counted on to tell me the truth; I loved that about her,” Foster said. “I loved her work ethic. I loved her passion for life. We are going to have some work to do because too many young women have been affected by this.”
Engen said the couple recently moved into the condominium complex. The parking structure requires a key-code for entry and there are security cameras throughout the complex, a resident told the Los Angeles Times.
”We moved here because it was so safe — Irvine was the safest city in America,” Sharon Smith said. ”I guess like anywhere else, we’re going to have a few incidents. … Nobody worries about living here.”