Actor Michael Jace, who played a sexually conflicted cop on “The Shield,” was charged with killing his wife Tuesday after he made a damning 911 call for help.
“I shot my wife,” Jace reportedly told the operator, according to TMZ.com.
Jace then obediently stayed on the line and was standing in the doorway when cops arrived at his Los Angeles home and found his wife, April, dead of multiple gunshot wounds.
While Jace, 51, was hauled off to jail, the couples’ two young sons — both of whom are younger than 10 — were turned over to their maternal grandmother, police said.
“At the very least, they heard the shooting,” Det. Sal LaBarbera told The Los Angeles Times.
April Jace, 40, was fatally shot around 8:30 p.m. Monday in a hallway about 15 minutes after she returned home with her sons from baseball practice, police said.
It’s not clear where Jace got the gun. On a statement of the actor’s assets obtained by the Associated Press, he checked the box indicating he didn’t own a firearm.
“This is more than a shock,” the slain woman’s big brother, Carlo Laune, told the Daily News. “It’s out of this world. That’s not humanity what happened.”
While police are investigating whether the couple had been arguing over money, Laune said he had no inkling Jace and his sister were at odds. “Not at all,” he said. “Not at all. Zero.”
Then Laune, 44, gave way to his grief.
“I can’t process this,” he said. “She was so wonderful. She taught me how to love unconditionally. I was on two combat deployments with the Marine Corps and she wrote to me like clockwork. She knew what dedication was. She knew what love was. She knew what truth was. She was tough but super sweet.”
But April Jace was well-aware she was living with a powder keg.
Jace’s first marriage to Jennifer Bitterman, which ended in divorce in 2002, was marked by violence, according to records obtained by TMZ.com.
A friend of Bitterman’s said an out-of-control Jace choked his wife and slammed her against a wall as his 6-month-old son screamed in his crib next to them.
“Seeing the extent of his anger was one of the most terrifying things I have ever seen,” she said.
But April Jace was apparently blind to her husband’s fury and even defended him as a good provider during his divorce. She also called Bitterman a bad mom.
“Usually at bedtime, (Jace’s firstborn) prays for his mom and asks God to protect her while he’s not there with her,” April Jace told the court, according to the records.
Jace was booked on suspicion of homicide and ordered held on $1 million bail. And it’s not clear he’ll be able to raise the money.
The Paterson, N.J.-born actor filed for bankruptcy in March 2011 and listed debts of $500,000 to $1 million — most of it owed on his home in the Hyde Park section, the AP reported.
Jace also owed more than $22,000 in state and federal income taxes, and still owed the state of California more than $20,000 in back taxes for 2008.
As part of the bankruptcy, Jace agreed to a repayment plan, but by last November he had already fallen $2,000 behind, according to the AP.
Jace is best known for playing Officer Julien Lowe on the FX series, a devoutly religious cop who is struggling with his homosexuality. He played the role from 2002 to 2008.
The murder suspect also appeared on the show “Southland” and had small roles in the movies “Boogie Nights,” “State of Play,” “Planet of the Apes” and “Forrest Gump.”
And in 1999, Jace starred in the television movie, “Michael Jordan: An American Hero.”
Jace and his dead wife were married for ten years and her Facebook page has pictures of the couple in happier days.
April Jace worked in the financial aid office at Biola University, a private Christian college in Los Angeles. She also had a grown son from an earlier relationship.
“Her smiling face and helpful spirit will be missed by all,” her boss Geoff Marsh said on the school’s website.