NEW ORLEANS – The daughter of a Louisiana pastor who was killed at a revival service says that if her father could talk to his killer, he’d say, “I forgive you and I love you.”
Ronald Harris Sr. was a man who picked up his five grandchildren from school and took them for a snack, a man who loved to fish and a minister who preached both hellfire and God’s love, Talisha Harris said. The 53-year-old pastor’s favorite Bible passage was “I can do all things through Christ.”
The man accused of shooting him on Friday in Lake Charles was once a member of the Tabernacle of Praise Worship Center but left about four years ago, she said Sunday.
Harris said neither she, her brother, nor her mother knows of a motive. Woodrow Karey, 53, of Lake Charles stopped going to church without saying why, but didn’t display any animosity, she said. “One question I do want to ask him is why,” the 31-year-old said. “My dad had a big heart. He’d help anybody.”
Karey, who has no known history of crime or mental troubles, called to surrender minutes after the shooting Friday night and told deputies where to find a shotgun and a .22-caliber pistol he had left in nearby woods, said Kim Myers, spokeswoman for the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office.
He was booked on a second-degree murder charge and remained jailed Sunday, his bond set at $1 million.
The preaching had not begun Friday night when the gunman burst into the sanctuary. The congregation was waiting for some out-of-town visitors, Harris said.
Her father was singing. So was she, as a member of the five-person praise group that accompanied him.
Then, she said, the woman who had been handing out visitor packets at the front door ran in, shouting, “He got a gun! He got a gun! He got a gun!”