Woodrow Karey, Jr. after being charged in the shooting death of Pastor Ronald J. Harris, Sr., on Sept. 28. Police said a gunman walked into the Tabernacle of Praise Worship Center in Lake Charles and shot Pastor Ronald J. Harris Sr. "as he was preaching." Harris was pronounced dead at the scene. Karey, 53, of Lake Charles, is charged with second-degree murder and was held in the parish jail Saturday.
A Louisiana pastor who was shot dead during a sermon in front of a dozens of parishioners may have had some inappropriate contact — including possibly rape — with the suspect’s wife, police said Monday.
Investigators are looking into the possibility that the alleged gunman, Woodrow Karey, 53, shot Pastor Ronald J. Harris Sr. after discovering correspondence on his wife’s cell phone between the woman and Harris, the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office, said Monday.
Sheriff Tony Mancuso told NBC News that he could not say how his office came to receive the text messages but that they have issued search warrants “for several different phones.”
And two days prior to the shooting, Karey’s wife filed rape charges against Harris, according to Sheriff’s office.
Mancuso said the task is now to determine what exactly the nature of the relationship between the pastor and the wife was.
“We have enough now to say, ‘Okay, was there some kind of consensual sexual relationship?’” he said.
Mancuso added that both the alleged rape and the shooting will be investigated together.
"We have a lot to do. We have a lot of witnesses to interview," he said, adding: "I don’t think we’re going to come to a conclusion any time soon."
On Friday, Karey allegedly walked into Tabernacle of Praise Worship Center in Lake Charles, La., at about 8:20 p.m. and shot Harris twice — once while he was preaching and a second time at close range after Harris fell to the floor, police said. Some 60 people, including Harris' wife, were in the audience.
“Witnesses said that Karey fired one shot then he went up to him, stood over him and fired again,” , Kim Myers, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office, told NBC News.
Myers added that Karey, who has no criminal background, fled the scene but later called police to turn himself in. He was picked up minutes after the shooting by police without incident near the church.
Karey then allegedly directed deputies to two guns – a shotgun and a .22 pistol – he had discarded in a wooded area nearby, police said.
Karey is being held on a $1 million bond at the Calcasieu Correctional Center and is expected to be charged with second degree murder.
Representatives of Tabernacle of Praise Worship Center did not respond to requests for comment.
Family members of Harris in Lake Charles said they had no comment on the latest developments, according to the Associated Press.
First published September 30 2013, 5:04 PM