Ex-boyfriend arrested in Calif. officer's slaying

By John Coté, Staff Writer
The San Francisco Chronicle

In Vallejo on Saturday night, police arrested a former boyfriend in the killing of Officer Kaliah Ashante Harper, a rising star in the Richmond Police Department, who was gunned down outside a funeral service in Fairfield on Friday afternoon.

Police arrested Quartus Lee Hinton, 28, without incident in the Vallejo marina area at 8:45 p.m. Saturday on a no-bail murder warrant after an extensive manhunt involving numerous law enforcement agencies.

Hinton -- said to be distraught over a recent breakup with Harper -- is suspected of shooting her multiple times in the upper body and head at point-blank range Friday after a funeral for two young boys. The boys were killed Nov. 17 in a traffic crash on Highway 12, Fairfield police Lt. Tony Shipp said. Harper, a four-year officer who lived in Suisun City, was off-duty when she was killed. It's unclear whether she was armed at the time, Shipp said.

"She didn't have to die like that," Harper's mother, Beverly Moore, said at police headquarters, where her 28-year-old daughter had excelled as a narcotics officer.

"She used to always tell me, 'Mama, I'm not gonna live a long life,' " Moore said. "She would say, 'I really know that.' And I thought it would be in the line of duty, not just a senseless act from a jilted lover."

Harper and Hinton had dated for about six months and had broken up between two and three weeks ago, Richmond police Lt. Enos Johnson said during a news conference Saturday.

Hinton was "somehow related" to the two boys killed in the traffic crash, and Harper knew the boys through him, Johnson said. Harper had gone to the funeral service out of respect for the boys.

"She was there to honor them," Johnson said.

During a reception at Fairfield Community Center after the funeral, Hinton and Harper walked out to the parking lot together about 2:30 p.m., police said. Moments later, mourners heard gunshots and found Harper lying on the ground, police said. A green Ford Taurus was driving away, police said.

A handgun was found a few blocks away, and police located the Taurus about 2 a.m. Saturday at the Westfield Solano mall, less than 2 miles from the shooting, Shipp said.

Hinton has multiple addresses in Solano County, and it's unclear where he currently lives, according to police. About 200 officers from local police agencies, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration -- including off-duty officers who had worked with Harper and felt compelled to help -- fanned out Friday night to search for her killer, Johnson said.

"They wanted to help," he said. "That's the type of love she created."

After Hinton was taken into custody near the Vallejo marina, he was transported to the Fairfield Police Department for questioning, said Richmond police Lt. Mark Gagan.

Johnson recounted how he had helped recruit Harper to be an officer after the Richmond native applied for a dispatcher position. Police handed out a three-page document listing Harper's 12 letters of commendation since she started as a trainee at the department in 2002. She was promoted to the narcotics task force while still a probationary hire, an indication of how quickly she had impressed her colleagues and superiors, officials said.

They also said she graduated in the top half of her class.

"She was an up-and-coming leader in this organization," Deputy Chief Lori Ritter said.

Johnson's eyes were rimmed red and his voice at times trembled with emotion during the news conference, which was attended by police officials, City Councilman Nathaniel Bates and Harper's mother, sister and best friend.

"I'm a little emotional because I helped bring her into this department," Johnson said. "This is a tremendous loss for us."

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