Pregnant Pennsylvania Woman Is Fatally Shot as She Pumped Gas, and Ex-Boyfriend Is Suspect

Police allege Rafiq Thompson, 38, killed 31-year-old Tamara Cornelius and her unborn baby at an Exxon gas station in Upper Merion Township, Pa., about 15 miles outside of Philadelphia

Tamara Cornelius
Photo: National Gun Violence Memorial

Authorities in Philadelphia continue to search for a man they believe fatally shot his pregnant ex-girlfriend while she pumped gas.

According to the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office, an arrest warrant was issued for 38-year-old Rafiq Thompson in the Friday killing of 31-year-old Tamara Cornelius and her unborn baby at an Exxon gas station in Upper Merion Township, Pa., about 15 miles outside of Philadelphia.

Thompson and Cornelius were previously in a relationship, per a news release.

Authorities allege the pair had spoken briefly, before Cornelius had dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, Friday night. It is believed he waited outside and followed her as she drove to the gas station, about an hour later.

According to investigators, Thompson got out of his car and spoke with Cornelius again while she pumped gas. He then allegedly fired his gun at her, repeatedly.

Thompson "shot her multiple times, continuing as she attempted to run away," according to the DA's news release.

Police found Cornelius lying in the parking lot. Shortly after, she was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

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An autopsy revealed Cornelius died from multiple gunshot wounds. It also revealed she was pregnant at the time of her murder, although investigators didn't reveal how far along.

"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," District Attorney Kevin Steele said in a statement.

WCAU-TV reports Cornelius was also a mother to three additional children.

The DA is offering a $5,000 reward to anyone who can provide investigators with information leading to Thompson's arrest. He is considered armed and dangerous.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Montgomery County Detectives at 610-226-5553 or Upper Merion Township Police at 610-265-3232.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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