Wife of suspect in shooting of La. pastor Ronald Harris Sr. had accused victim of rape

Two days before Woodrow Karey walked into a church in Lake Charles, La. and fatally shot the pastor, Ronald Harris Sr., Karey’s wife had filed a rape complaint against the victim, according to the sheriff’s department account of Harris’s death. Authorities have charged Karey in connection with the shooting at the Tabernacle of Praise Worship Center on Friday, but they have not yet substantiated the accusation of rape:

Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Monday that Harris and the suspect’s wife had exchanged text messages before she filed the rape complaint.

The sheriff’s department says Karey found the messages on his wife’s cellphone on Sept. 21, a few days before she filed the complaint and less than a week before the shooting.

It’s not clear if there was a consensual relationship or not, and that will be a focus of the investigation, Mancuso said.

“We’re trying to put all the pieces together,” Mancuso said.

The sheriff declined to release a copy of the rape complaint, saying it’s part of the ongoing investigation.

Mancuso said search warrants for phone records and other evidence may help paint a better picture of what led to the pastor’s death. . . .

Kim Myers, spokeswoman for the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office, has said that Karey has no known history of crime or mental troubles. She said he called police to surrender minutes after the shooting and told deputies where to find a shotgun and a .22-caliber pistol he had left in nearby woods.

Associated Press

Citing Harris’s children, CNN reported that he and Karey had been friends. Harris’s daughter told the cable news channel that she was leading the congregation in singing “Our God Is a Great God” when Karey entered the church and began firing a shotgun at her father.

_

See Monday’s news in photos from around the world in the gallery below.

Max Ehrenfreund writes for Wonkblog and compiles Wonkbook, a daily policy newsletter. You can subscribe here. Before joining The Washington Post, Ehrenfreund wrote for the Washington Monthly and The Sacramento Bee.

national

Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Comments
Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Thank you for signing up
You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series.
Most Read National

national

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.