Teen certified as adult to face murder charges in shooting of retired St. Louis officer

Retired Sergeant Ralph E. Harper and Justin Mathews.

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — A teen has been certified as an adult to face charges in the fatal November shooting of a retired St. Louis police sergeant.

Justin Mathews, 16, is now charged with murder, armed criminal action, robbery, tampering, and felony fleeing. A bond is not being allowed in this case.

The 67-year-old retired sergeant tragically lost his life on October 29, 2018, during an attempted robbery in the 3100 block of Lackland near Tower Grove Park. Harper was on his way to babysit for a relative when he parked his car in the 3100 block of Lackland at around 7:30 a.m.

He exchanged gunfire with a teenage robbery suspect and died at a hospital a couple of hours later, police said. Police later tried to pull over a stolen SUV believed to be the killer’s getaway vehicle. It crashed on Allen near Jefferson and Interstate 44 in south St. Louis. Two suspects ran off and one of them hid in a nearby dumpster, police said.

The suspect hiding in the dumpster was identified as Julian Mathews, 17, of North St. Louis County. He was charged with misdemeanor vehicle tampering and resisting arrest because he was not involved in the robbery or shooting, police said. He allegedly dropped the suspected killer at a hospital for treatment of a bullet wound to his wrist.

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