Salisbury JournalShield actor: I gunned down my wife (From Salisbury Journal)

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Shield actor: I gunned down my wife

Salisbury Journal: Michael Jace, pictured in 2012, has been arrested over the death of his wife Michael Jace, pictured in 2012, has been arrested over the death of his wife

Actor Michael Jace, who played a police officer in hit TV show The Shield, called an emergency dispatcher and told an operator he had shot his wife, authorities have said.

The 51-year-old actor, best known for his role as LAPD officer Julien Lowe in the US police drama, is being held on suspicion of murdering his wife April, 40.

Detectives are investigating whether the couple's financial problems or other marital difficulties 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, who are staying with relatives, witnessed the argument or gunfire.

April Jace was shot several times and found dead in a hallway of the family home in the quiet, modest Hyde Park neighbourhood of Los Angeles. Police recovered a handgun believed to belong to her husband, Detective Dean Vinluan of Los Angeles police said.

"She came home with the kids and then the dispute happened and the shooting happened," he said.

Jace called the emergency dispatcher, said he had shot his wife and then was seen walking out of the home as officers arrived, Mr Vinluan said. He was detained and later arrested.

Police will review the full emergency call and other calls from neighbours reporting that shots had been fired before Jace is formally charged.

The actor also appeared on the show Southland and had small roles in Planet Of The Apes, Boogie Nights and Forrest Gump.

Mr Vinluan said there had been no reports of domestic violence at the home. However, the actor had been under financial pressure in recent years. He declared bankruptcy in 2011 and had been delinquent on payments as recently as December.

Next-door neighbour Shirley Harding described the Jaces as good, hands-on parents. "I never heard arguments," she said. "I just heard happiness over there."

The actor has a son from a previous marriage and was accused in divorce proceedings of being violent towards his ex-wife.

Maria de la Vega, a close friend of Jace's ex-wife Jennifer Bitterman, said in a court filing that she saw the actor become violent several times. In August 1997, Ms de la Vega wrote, Jace choked Ms Bitterman and slammed her head into a wall while their baby son was crying in a cot next to them.

In his filing, Jace said he and Ms Bitterman "were both guilty of overstepping physical boundaries".

April Jace was a schoolteacher for 10 years before taking a job in March 2013 as a financial aid counsellor at Biola University, a private Christian school. Geoff Marsh, Biola's senior director of financial aid, said she had a radiant personality.

"Her love for helping students and families and her great work ethic earned the respect and love of her co-workers," he said.

Michael Jace's bankruptcy filing listed debts between 500,000 and one million dollars (£297,000-£595,000). Much of the debt appeared related to his home, with an additional 22,000 dollars (£13,000) owed in state and national income taxes.

More than 20,000 dollars (£12,000) of his tax delinquency was owed to the state of California for 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 did not 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 internet movie database IMDB.com.

"He's one of those people whose faces you'd recognise 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."

Calls seeking comment from Jace's agents at SMS Talent were not immediately returned.

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