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Crime News Breaking News

Pregnant Pennsylvania Woman Gunned Down Pumping Gas, Allegedly By Ex

Authorities allege Rafiq Thompson followed his ex-girlfriend Tamara Cornelius and killed her at an Exxon station in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

By Dorian Geiger
Suspect Rafiq Thompson

Authorities are scrambling to locate the gunman responsible for opening fire on a pregnant woman, killing her and her unborn child, at a gas station in the suburbs of Philadelphia last week.

Tamara Cornelius, 31, was shot and killed, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend Rafiq Thompson, at a King of Prussia Exxon Station on Friday night. Officials have since issued a $5,000 reward for information leading to Thompson’s capture.

Johnson, 28, has been charged with first-degree murder in the case. Prosecutors said they plan to file further charges against Johnson, pending his capture, related to the death of Cornelius’ unborn baby.

“This was a chilling murder of a young woman and her unborn child. We will be filing an additional homicide charge against the defendant—murder of an unborn child,” Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele said in a statement.

Upper Merion Police officers were dispatched to the filling station at 113 N. Gulph Road shortly before 10:30 p.m. on Friday after reports of gunfire. Cornelius, who had suffered multiple gunshot wounds, was found lying in the parking lot of the Exxon station. She was later transported to Paoli Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

According to homicide detectives, Cornelius and Thompson had a past romantic relationship, and had spoken roughly an hour before the deadly shooting. The pair allegedly chatted for a short time at 9:11 p.m., before Cornelius went out for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. After leaving dinner, and exiting a mall parking garage roughly an hour later, Cornelius pulled into the Exxon station to fill up her vehicle’s tank. She was fatally shot moments later while pumping gas, officials said.

“The defendant followed her,” the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office alleged. “Thompson stepped out of his car, spoke to the victim and then shot her multiple times, continuing as she attempted to run away.”

The Chester County Coroner’s Office later ruled Cornelius’ death to be a homicide due to several gunshot wounds. The autopsy had also revealed the 31-year-old was pregnant at the time she was killed. 

As of Wednesday morning, Thompson, who is considered armed and dangerous, hadn’t been located by investigators. Police haven’t yet specified where search efforts have been concentrated or whether they suspect Thompson is still in the area.

The brazen shooting shocked residents of the otherwise sleepy King of Prussia suburb, which is located about 20 miles northwest of Philadelphia.  

“Everything’s just getting crazy around here, all over Philly, something like that is just unnecessary,” local resident Lawrence Martin told Philadelphia television station KYW-TV.

The gas station shooting also stunned others who worked in the neighborhood. 

“That’s crazy,” Scott Shimkonis also said. “I work right down the street so I never heard anything like that happening in the King of Prussia area. It’s pretty scary.”

No further information was immediately released by law enforcement on Wednesday. A spokesperson for the Upper Merion Police Department didn’t immediately reply to Oxygen.com’s request for comment this week. 

Thompson is described as a Black male, is estimated to be 5' 7'' tall and weighing about 167 pounds. 

Anyone with information pertaining to the Philadelphia man’s whereabouts is urged to contact Montgomery County detectives at 610-226-5553 or the Upper Merion Police Department at 610-265-3232.