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April 15, 2022

Woman shot and killed at King of Prussia gas station was pregnant, prosecutors say

Rafiq Thompson, 38, of Philadelphia, has been charged with the death of an unborn child on top of previous charges

Investigations Shootings
King of Prussia gas station shooting Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

Rafiq Thompson, 38, of Philadelphia, has now been charged with the death of an unborn child because his ex-girlfriend, whom he allegedly shot, was 14 weeks pregnant. He was already facing two murder charges and a pair of illegal gun offenses.

The man who allegedly shot and killed his ex-girlfriend at a King of Prussia gas station last Friday is now facing an additional charge because investigators determined the woman was 14 weeks pregnant.

Rafiq Thompson, 38, of Philadelphia, was charged Thursday with the death of an unborn child, the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office said.

Thompson already had been charged with first-degree murder, third-degree murder and two illegal gun offenses after he was arrested Wednesday for allegedly killing 31-year-old Tamara Cornelius.

The semi-automatic handgun Thompson allegedly used in the fatal shooting was found Monday in a flower bed by a landscaper at the Executive Terrace office building at 455 S. Gulph Road in King of Prussia. 

The firearm had a bullet in the chamber when it was found, prosecutors said. Police determined the weapon belonged to Thompson following a ballistic examination.

Thompson, who was on parole at the time of the incident, would have been prevented from owning a gun due to his prior convictions, investigators said. Detectives were still working to figure out how Thompson illegally obtained the firearm.

Thompson texted Cornelius 93 times and called her 21 times during a three-day span, but she did not respond to any of them, investigators said. 

At 5:55 p.m. last Friday, Thompson allegedly texted Cornelius to invite her out to dinner. She responded via several phone calls, investigators said. 

King of Prussia Mall video surveillance showed Thompson and Cornelius meeting outside of The Cheesecake Factory at 9:10 p.m.

The waiter who served Thompson and Cornelius told investigators that they were having a contentious conversation, and that Thompson had left by the time their food arrived. Video footage showed Thompson leaving the mall alone at 9:45 p.m.

Cornelius asked the waiter to box the food for take-out, paid the bill and left by herself at 10:15 p.m. Thompson then followed her from the mall's parking garage to the Exxon gas station at 113 N. Gulph Road, investigators said.

Cornelius pulled up to the gas pump and Thompson parked directly behind her vehicle with his headlights turned off, according to video footage and eyewitness accounts. Cornelius began to pump gas as Thompson got out of his car and approached her.

Video surveillance showed Thompson talking to Cornelius before pulling out a gun moments later and shooting her. As she tried to flee, Thompson followed behind kept shooting her, investigators said.

When Cornelius collapsed to the ground, Thompson stood over her for a moment before getting back into his car and fleeing the scene, investigators said.

Upper Merion Township police received reports of gunfire at the gas station around 10:20 p.m. Police found Cornelius lying in the gas station's parking lot with multiple gunshot wounds.

Cornelius was taken to Paoli Hospital in Chester County, where she later was pronounced dead.

The investigation found shell casings at the scene and Cornelius' take-out bag from The Cheesecake Factory on the front seat of her car.

An autopsy performed Monday found the cause of Cornelius' death to be four gunshot wounds and ruled it a homicide. Investigators then posted a $5,000 reward for information leading to Thompson's arrest.

Thompson is being held without bail at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 25.

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