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.