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November 19, 2013

‘Everyone loved her’: Family mourns tragic death of Mariah Jai Anderson

NEW CASTLE — Mariah Jai Anderson wanted to be a nurse.

The 22-year-old mother of three, of 701 W. Washington St., had planned to start school in January at Butler County Community College, where she had enrolled in its registered nursing program.

But as she left her job at Walmart’s deli department around 11:15 Sunday night, her former boyfriend and father of her children was waiting for her with a gun at her car in the store parking lot and shot her to death.

State police said Carlos Montique Harper, 27, of 103 E. Sharp St., approached Anderson’ 2002 Cadillac Escalade and fired a handgun through the passenger window. Six spent .40-caliber casings were found on the pavement. Police said Harper later shot himself in the head during a police standoff in Beaver County.

Deputy Coroner Rich Johnson said autopsies were to be performed on Anderson and Harper yesterday at Heritage Valley Health Center in Beaver County. He said Anderson’s cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds to her head and upper body.

Johnson said video surveillance shows a man, later identified as Harper, getting out of a car in the Walmart lot and approaching Anderson’s vehicle and shooting into it. The tape shows at least four shots were fired. Anderson had put her car in reverse gear and after the shooting it traveled in a circle, over a curb and into a tree, he said.

He pronounced Anderson dead at Jameson Hospital.

State police charged Harper with criminal homicide and aggravated assault and obtained a warrant for his arrest early yesterday morning. They received information he was at an apartment of an acquaintance in the Brightwood complex in New Brighton and formed a stake-out around the building at dawn.

Troopers and New Brighton police were in a standoff with him until around 11:45 a.m., when they learned Harper fatally shot himself inside a unit.

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