New Mexico State University junior linebacker Shana Leaupepe was killed in an apparent drive by shooting early Saturday morning in Long Beach, Calif., where he was visiting his girlfriend, according the Long Beach Police Department.

Sgt. David Cannan said police are still searching for a suspect and added the shooting appeard to be “completely random.”

“It doesn't appear he was targeted in any way, as far as we can tell,” Cannan said in a telephone interview Saturday afternoon. Cannan said police responded to the shooting near Long Beach Buolevard and the Long Beach Freeway at 1:20 a.m.

“The car the shooter was in didn't stop, didn't even slow down from what we can gather,” Cannan said.

Cannan is asking anyone with information in the shooting to contact Long Beach PD homicide detectives Scott Lasch or Malcolm Evans at (562) 570-7244.

“Shana was an outstanding young man and we are shocked that this has happened,” head coach Hal Mumme said in a statement released by NMSU. “Shana was a wonderful friend and teammate and our hearts go out to his family. We've lost a special young man whose time at New Mexico State left a lasting mark on our coaches, players and staff.”

The school said no players or coaches would be available for comment and asked on behalf of the family their provacy be respected.

Leaupepe, 21, will be buried in American Samoa, however the funeral date and time has not been set. Defensive line coach Mike Fanoga will represent New Mexico State University at the funeral. Leaupepe is the son of Fipe Leiatana and was majoring in sociology.

Leaupepe, who would have been the starting middle linebacker for the Aggies this Fall, sat out last season as a red-shirt sophomore, but was projected to be a vital part of a resurgent Aggie defense this season.

Defensive coordinator Woody Widenhofer and Mumme both sang Leaupepe's praises throughout the offseason as the most likely candidate to fill the void left from last year's star linebacker Jimmy Cottrell, who led the nation in tackles.

The 6-foot-1, 245-pound linebacker was the disrupting force on the scout team throughout the 2005 season.

“No matter who we played last year, no matter who their best player was, we'd put Shana in that position in practice and we couldn't stop him,” Mumme said in an interview earlier this year.

During spring practice, Leaupepe led the Aggies speed-dominated, blitz-heavy attack. In the second scrimmage of the spring, Leaupepe made four tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

At West Los Angeles College, the school Leaupepe played at before joining the Aggies last year, he was the Oilers leading tackler in 2004 with 56 tackles and helped lead the team to a 7-3 record and a conference championship. He was a two-time all-Conference selection.

Geoff Grammer can be reached at