Teens charged in fatal shooting of retired police officer in Tower Grove

ST. LOUIS - Two teenage males ages 15 and 16 have been charged with second-degree murder and attempted robbery, among other charges, for the murder of retired St. Louis Police Sergeant, Ralph Harper, 67, Monday morning 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 around 7:30 am, a friend said.

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.

He has now been identified as Julian Mathews, 17, of North County.

He is charged only with misdemeanor vehicle tampering and resisting arrest because he was not involved in the robbery or shooting, police said.

He apparently took over the vehicle's driver after the two juveniles drove away from the murder scene.  Mathews allegedly dropped the suspected killer at a hospital for treatment of a bullet wound to his wrist.

Mathews may face additional felony charges.

Fox 2/News 11 has confirmed he was arrested earlier this month in a drug and weapons case but was released pending additional evidence from police.

The two juvenile suspects will likely be certified to stand trial as adults but the official decision may be weeks away, sources said.