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

Willie Grace | 5/20/2014, 7:39 p.m. | Updated on 5/20/2014, 7:39 p.m.
Actor Michael Jace, right, has been arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of his wife, April. Jace formerly appeared ...

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.

"At this moment, the motive of the murder is believed to be domestic violence," a police statement said.

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.