Shreveport, La. — A uniformed Louisiana police officer was fatally shot as she was preparing to go to work on the night shift. Police in Shreveport say it happened shortly before 8:30 p.m. Wednesday outside a home.
Shreveport substitute police chief Ben Raymond said officers responded to a 911 call from the home reporting a woman had been shot. They found fellow officer Chateri Payne shot multiple times, gravely wounded and "fighting for her life," Raymond said.
Payne was transported to the hospital, where she died several hours later. The rookie officer had just graduated from the police academy in November, Raymond said.
"Every life is precious, and the taking of any human life is unacceptable," Raymond said. "But when a servant who has taken an oath and committed their life to protecting others is violently taken from us, we all collectively feel the pain of that loss."
Raymond said his department is investigating, but they have "many more questions than answers." Police haven't yet determined a suspect or motive. Raymond said a witness in the home was questioned, but no one is currently in custody. A child was in the home at the time of the shooting, but Raymond couldn't say what, if anything the child witnessed.
Payne leaves behind a young child, reports CBS affiliate KSLA-TV. Raymond didn't say whether the child in the home was Payne's or whether the slain officer lived at the home where she was killed.
Raymond also couldn't say whether the shooting may have involved a domestic dispute. He said the department is in the early stages of the investigation and "not willing to rule out anything."
"We're going to follow every lead and work to identify and apprehend the coward or cowards responsible for the brutal murder of Officer Payne," Raymond said.
The Shreveport Times reports Payne was a 2014 graduate of Captain Shreve High School, where she ran track.
Raymond described Payne as professional, fit, and intelligent. He said he had personally handed the woman her diploma when she graduated from the police academy Nov. 16, and saw "excitement in her eyes" as she joined the department's ranks. Payne was well liked among her police academy classmates, he said, many of whom gathered at the hospital overnight and have been deeply affected by her loss.
The Shreveport Police Officer's Association lamented the officer's death in a statement.
"We have lost one of our own," the statement said. "She was young, and she was beautiful. She was proving herself to be a capable professional, dedicated to serving the citizens of Shreveport."
Tributes to the young officer quickly filled her Facebook page, where she had posted on the day of her police academy graduation — less than two months before her death — about her excitement to become a police officer.
"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!" Payne wrote. "I've never claimed to be perfect, but I am taking this step and becoming a better version of myself by knowing that it is always something bigger than MYSELF. It is an honor to be able to join such a powerful family with my Brothers and Sisters in Blue. May the journey begin."