Green Beret Colonel Threatened to Kill Wife in Front of Children Before Standoff with Police: Affidavit

Col. Owen Ray.
Col. Owen Ray, 1st Special Forces Group commander, speaks to reporters at the Pentagon, July 12, 2019. (U.S. Dept. of Defense/Joe Lacdan)

A Special Forces officer from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington is being held on $1 million bail, accused of holding his wife and children at gunpoint in a drunken rage early Sunday morning that ended in a two-hour standoff with police.

Army Colonel Owen G. Ray, a former commander of 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), has been ordered to reappear in court Jan. 11 with his attorney to face charges ranging from kidnapping and assault to threatening police with a firearm.

Ray’s 16-year-old daughter called 911 around midnight to report that her father, who was armed with a shotgun and two pistols, was in a room with her mother and two younger siblings, and that “she believed her father would kill her if he discovered she had called 911,” according to a probable cause affidavit from the case.

“Dispatch could hear the children screaming inside,” according to the affidavit.

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The incident started with an argument between Ray and his wife, Kristen, who believed that her husband was intoxicated. She was frightened enough to retreat to her 10-year-old and 7-year-old children’s bedroom to hide, according to the affidavit.

Kristen heard her husband say, “let's do this,” the document states, and describes how Ray then put on his boots and went out to the garage where the guns were stored.

When Ray returned and found his wife and children, he began “shouting and swinging the gun around,” according to the affidavit.

“Kristen threatened to call the police and then did call the police at which point, the defendant became enraged,” the document states. “He pointed the gun at Kristen and threatened to kill her.

“He proceeded to kick Kristen over and over with his boots in the face and chest. The two children had woken up and were screaming, ‘don't kill mom, don't shoot us.’”

Ray’s wife tried to get the children out of the bedroom, but he refused to let her leave despite the children’s pleas, according to the affidavit.

When Ray finally relented, “Kristen and the two children raced down the stairs while the defendant was still yelling,” according to the document.

When law enforcement arrived shortly after midnight, the defendant, his wife and three children were still in the house, the affidavit stated, describing how “Ray could be heard saying, that law enforcement had surrounded the house so what choice did he have now and ‘you're going to force me to kill myself.’”

Ray allowed his wife and two younger children to leave the house at 12:33 a.m. followed by his 16-year-old daughter shortly after, the affidavit states. Kristen, officials said, had a visible cut and abrasions on her nose, a “reddening on her neck and chest area,” and a “large bump on her forehead.”

When police contacted Ray by phone at 12:49 a.m., he told them he would not leave the house alive and that if anyone tried to arrest him, he would kill them,” according to the affidavit.

Ray also told law enforcement he was a 25-year veteran who had spent most of his time in the 1st Special Forces Group.

“He stated that he had killed a lot of people and he had no problem killing law enforcement if they made attempts to arrest him,” according to the affidavit.

During the stand-off, Ray walked out on the balcony and held a pistol to the side of his head, the affidavit states.

Ray eventually calmed down and surrendered to police at 2:22 a.m. After his arrest, police found two handguns and a shotgun in the master bedroom and multiple firearms in a safe in the garage, according to the document.

During his arraignment, earlier charges against Ray were changed to one count of first-degree kidnapping, two counts of second-degree assault, two counts of felony harassment and one count of reckless endangerment, according to the affidavit. contacted Ray’s attorney, Jared Ausserer, but did not receive an immediate response.

Ray, who is scheduled to stand trial before a jury on February 18, has been suspended from his current job as I Corps chief of staff while a civilian law enforcement investigation into the case continues, Army officials at Joint Base Lewis-McChord said.

The Army said Monday that I Corps officials will continue to support both Ray and his family and that the “safety of everyone involved is the command's priority."

Before assuming the I Corps chief of staff position, Ray commanded the 1st Special Forces Group and held other leadership positions in the Green Beret unit. He served as a detachment commander in 2003 and as a company commander in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2011. He also commanded 4th Battalion, 1st SFG as part of the special operations joint task force, in 2013.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at

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