Shreveport, LA – Shreveport Police Officer Chateri Payne will be laid to rest on Saturday, but the hunt for the gunman who murdered her as she was getting into her patrol car last week remains ongoing.
Officer Payne, 22, was fatally shot outside her Caddo Heights home at approximately 8:20 p.m. on Jan. 9, as she was heading to her running police cruiser, KTBS reported.
Officers received a report of “shots fired,” and arrived to find the uniformed police officer “suffering serious bodily injury,” Shreveport Police Corporal Marcus Hines told reporters during a press conference later that night.
Officer Payne was shot least four times, to include a bullet to the head, according to FOX News.
She was rushed to Oschner LSU Hospital, and her relatives and coworkers soon followed to await word of her prognosis.
“Despite their best efforts, Officer Payne succumbed to her injuries within hours of having been transported to the hospital,” Shreveport Police Chief Ben Raymond said during a press conference on Jan 10.
“We will work to identify and apprehend the coward or cowards responsible for the brutal murder of Officer Payne,” Chief Raymond vowed.
State, local, and federal law enforcement officers have been “working around the clock” to identify and apprehend Officer Payne’s killer, but have made no arrests, Chief Payne said during an interview with KEEL on Tuesday.
Chief Raymond did confirm that Officer Payne’s boyfriend was a witness to her murder.
“We’ve questioned him,” he told KEEL.
The chief declined to provide any details regarding what information the slain officer’s boyfriend might have provided.
Despite some news reports claiming the shooting was a domestic violence situation, the chief refuted those claims.
“It is not accurate at this time” to label Officer Payne’s death as a domestic-related homicide, Chief Raymond said. But he also said he could not confidently say that she was murdered by a stranger.
“I couldn’t tell you accurately whether this was domestic-related or whether it was a stranger, [because] we just haven’t reached that point in the investigation,” he reiterated.
He said that investigators have questioned “several people,” and that he does not believe there are any individuals they are attempting to locate at this time.
“The pool of witnesses has continued to grow with the investigation,” Chief Raymond added. “The investigators are continuing to talk to people who they think may have relevant information.”
“We’re not going to release anything in an open investigation that could somewhat harm that investigation,” he said.
Until investigators are able to identify a solid suspect, no further information will be disseminated about the killer, Chief Raymond noted.
“We may have multiple suspects at this point, and we’re not going to identify any specific person until we’re confident that that is indeed the individual that needs to be held responsible,” the chief said.
“We don’t release suspect information, generally speaking, unless we have [an] active search warrant out for their arrest or unless we have probable cause for their arrest,” he added.
“So, if we identify a person and say ‘this is the suspect…we’re confident this is our suspect,’ then we will release that information,” he explained. “And until such time that we’ve reached that point of the investigation, we don’t do that.”
Officer Payne was hired by the Shreveport Police Department on July 27, 2018, Chief Raymond told reporters in the hours after her murder.
“It was evident to all [that] she had a true calling to serve,” he noted.
On Nov. 16, 2018, Officer Payne graduated from the police academy – a day Chief Raymond remembers well.
“I handed her diploma to her, [and] shook her hand, as she proudly walked across the stage and joined our ranks,” he recalled. “I saw firsthand the excitement in her eyes as she embarked upon her chosen career of serving others.”
Officer Payne chronicled her achievement in a Facebook post the same day.
“Long Days. Aching Nights. But I decided to stand tall on my dream,” she wrote. “Never lose sight of who you are and where you come from… build on who you are and to become an influential and better person…it is always something bigger than MYSELF.”
“My personal mission is to become that positive influence. To Protect those who can’t protect themselves & to at least try to push someone to being a better version of themselves!” Officer Payne explained.
“It is an honor to be able to join such a powerful family with my Brothers and Sisters in Blue,” the rookie officer wrote. “May the journey begin.”
Officer Payne was a Shreveport native who was a standout on the Captain Shreve High School track team, her former coach, Marita Hunt, told KSLA.
“She was a good athlete, but a great person,” Hunt said. “She was a leader on the track team and was like a daughter to me.”
“Her legacy would be her leadership qualities,” she told KSLA. “I wasn’t surprised that she became an officer.”
Officer Payne leaves behind a young child.
“Sadly, Shreveport wakes up painfully aware of the sacrifices police officers make every day,” Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins said in a statement, according to KSLA.
“Police officers are human beings just like the rest of us,” Perkins added. “Behind the badge is a beating heart—a father, mother, son, daughter, brother, and sister. When they put the uniform on, they put all that on the line.”
Officer Payne’s funeral will be held on Saturday, Chief Raymond said.