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April 10, 2022

Philadelphia man wanted for alleged fatal shooting of ex-girlfriend in Upper Merion, police say

31-year-old Tamara Cornelius was pumping gas at an Exxon station in King of Prussia when she was shot multiple times

Crime Shootings
KoP Shooting Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

Montgomery County police announced an arrest warrant in connection with the fatal shooting of 31-year-old Tamara Cornelius at an Exxon gas station in Upper Merion Township on Friday night.

Philadelphia resident Rafiq Thompson is wanted for allegedly shooting and killing ex-girlfriend Tamara Cornelius at an Exxon gas station in Upper Merion Township on Friday night, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele and Police Chief Thomas Nolan said on Saturday. 

At 10:22 p.m. on Friday, Upper Merion police were called to an Exxon gas station on North Gulph Road in King of Prussia, where they found Cornelius lying in the gas station parking lot with multiple gun shot wounds. She was transported to Paoli Hospital, where she was later pronounced dead. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday, April 11. 

A joint investigation found shell casings and a take-out bag from The Cheesecake Factory on the front seat of Cornelius' car. Police discovered that Thompson and Cornelius were previously in a relationship and had talked at 9:11 p.m. before she went into the restaurant to eat. 

Investigators said that Cornelius left the restaurant at around 10:15 p.m., and drove to the nearby gas station, where they believe Thompson followed her from the parking garage. Police say they believe Thompson shot Cornelius while she was pumping gas, then shot her again as she was attempting to get away. 

An image of Thompson was posted alongside the arrest warrant announcement on the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office Facebook page, and is available to see below.


Posted by Montgomery County District Attorney's Office on Saturday, April 9, 2022

Thompson faces counts of first-degree murder, illegal possession of a gun, and related charges, Montgomery County District Attorney's Office spokesperson Kate Delano told NBC 10. Prosecutors are treating the killing as a domestic violence case, since the two were previously in a relationship.

Philadelphia nonprofit advocacy group Women Against Abuse works to provide assistance to victims of domestic violence and intimate partner violence in the area. President Joanna Otero-Cruz told 6abc that while she is not aware of the specifics of this case, it can become particularly dangerous when people attempt to leave abusive relationships.

"Relationships can be very complex, but always remember that domestic violence is all about power and control — and when that individual feels that they're losing that sense of control things tend to escalate," Otero-Cruz said

Investigators are asking anyone who spots Thompson to call 911 immediately. The 38-year-old man is considered armed and dangerous, as the firearm was not recovered at the scene. He is 5-foot 7-inches tall, and around 167 pounds, police said.  

Anyone with additional information about Thompson's whereabouts or additional information related to the shooting death of Tamara Cornelius are encouraged to contact the Upper Merion Township Police tip line at (610) 265-3232 or Montgomery County Detectives at (610) 278-3638.