Police say Laurel man killed wife, adult stepdaughter


Prince George’s County police investigate at the scene of a home Monday in Laurel. (Matt Zapotosky/The Washington Post)

A Laurel man fatally shot his wife and adult stepdaughter, then threatened to turn the gun on himself as Prince George’s County police officers swarmed his quiet neighborhood Monday morning, authorities said.

Officers and 911 operators eventually talked Ronnie Lee Rainey, 59, into coming out of his home on Malcolm Drive unarmed. When officers went inside, they found his wife and stepdaughter dead, not far from the front door.

“It’s just senseless,” said Debbie Lee, a friend of the family. “It doesn’t have to happen.”

Police identified the victims as Lisa Renee Rainey, 50, and her daughter, Ariale Chantre Shelton, 27. They said Ronnie Rainey also shot at his teenage son, but the boy and another man were able to escape unharmed. Police said they were investigating the other man’s relationship to the family.

Lee said Lisa Rainey and her husband were retired Army medics who had been married for about 15 years and worked in federal government jobs. A spokesman for the Defense Security Service — which provides security and education services for the U.S. government — said Lisa Rainey was a security specialist at the group’s Linthicum training facility, known as the Center for Development of Security Excellence.

Julie Parker, a Prince George’s County police spokeswoman, said detectives were working to determine what prompted the shootings. She said Prince George’s officers had not been called to the home in the past five years — until Rainey himself dialed 911 about 10 a.m. Monday.

Parker said Rainey told the 911 call-taker that he had “killed his family” in the 16100 block of Malcolm Drive and that he planned to kill himself. Police called in a SWAT team as patrol officers arrived in the neighborhood of modest, single-family homes, Parker said.

Ettie Karpman, who lives down the street, said she saw scores of officers in blue and gray uniforms racing through her yard with their guns drawn.

“It really got me a little unnerved,” Karpman said. “In these times, you don’t know. You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.”

Before the SWAT team arrived, 911 operators and officers were able to convince Rainey to discard his weapon and come outside, Parker said. Authorities said he was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

Neighbors said the couple had lived in Laurel for a few years and mostly kept to themselves. A man who identified himself as Shelton’s brother called her “the best sister I ever had” but declined to comment further.

Army records show that both Lisa Rainey and her husband had worked as medical specialists.

Lisa Rainey, the records show, enlisted in 1980 and retired in 2000. She earned several awards, including a Meritorious Service Medal, two Army Commendation Medals and two Army Achievement Medals. She served in Germany and South Korea, among other places.

Ronnie Lee Rainey enlisted in 1976 and retired in 1996. He served in Georgia, Texas and Germany, the records show.

Lee — who said Lisa Rainey’s mother called her Monday to ask her to check on some sort of trouble with her daughter — said that the Raineys rented the house in Laurel and had moved around because of their Army jobs. She declined to comment on domestic troubles the couple might have had, but said she “definitely didn’t see this coming.”

“It’s like I’m watching a movie,” she said, “and it’s not real.”

Matt Zapotosky covers the federal district courthouse in Alexandria, where he tries to break news from a windowless office in which he is not allowed to bring his cell phone.
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