Jealousy, threats of violence part of Fort Lewis gunman's history
The man who fatally shot his ex-girlfriend before killing himself at Fort Lewis on Wednesday had previously threatened his former wife, according to court records.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The tipping point for the 59-year-old retired soldier who killed his former girlfriend at Fort Lewis before turning the gun on himself seemed to come when he learned she was dating another man, the victim's family said.
Lafayette Meminger found out that Sharlona White, 33, had reunited with her high-school boyfriend and that the new man was moving to Washington state, White's daughter said on Thursday.
"He told her that if he couldn't have her, no one could," said 14-year-old Zeunna Woodruff.
According to law-enforcement and Army officials, Meminger walked into the crowded main post exchange at Fort Lewis and fatally shot White at around 11:20 a.m. Wednesday. He then shot himself in the head, and he died a few hours later.
Meminger, of Lakewood, Pierce County, had retired from the Army as a sergeant first class in 1992. White was a civilian vendor, according to the Army.
The FBI, which is investigating the murder-suicide because both Meminger and White were civilians who died on a federal installation, did not release new information on Thursday.
According to court records and White's family, jealous rage was not unusual for Meminger.
His former wife had sought an order of protection from him from a Pierce County Superior Court judge in November 2002. In her request, she stated that she had divorced Meminger in 1999 after 30 years of marriage.
"He did not bother me until one month ago when he found out that I am dating," she stated in court documents.
Since that time, she wrote, he had staked out her apartment, left dirty and threatening messages on her voice mail and threatened to kill her boyfriend.
He had told relatives and friends that he planned to get a gun, go to the firing range and then "take me out," she wrote.
"I think he is consumed by jealousy," she stated. "He says a restraining order won't stop him, that it's just a piece of paper."
The former wife also said Meminger had been arrested for stalking and harassing her in 1994. "He was dangerous then and I feel he is even more dangerous now," she wrote.
The protection order was granted.
White, an East St. Louis, Mo., native who loved fashion and design ever since she was a child, moved to Washington before her children were born. She was working at a kiosk at the post exchange, or PX, selling clothing and jewelry of her own design.
She also ran a small clothing store in University Place that she'd named "ZnZ Wear" after her daughter and her 10-year-old son, Zaron.
Meminger was working as an unarmed guard at Western State Hospital.
Woodruff said her mother, a devoted Christian, had been introduced to Meminger about 18 months ago through a woman in her church.
"He was really good to us at first. He cooked and cleaned and said he would never hurt my mother, but then he tried to strangle her," Woodruff said.
When that happened, about eight months ago, White broke up with Meminger, her family said.
"He became crazily obsessed, worse than in the movies," Woodruff said. "He was coming around the house all the time, banging on the doors, banging on the windows. He would send crazy text messages to her and show up at her work all the time."
About a week before she was killed, White and her two children had taken shelter at the Tacoma home of White's parents. The night before her death, she had bought a dog for protection, her daughter said.
Her family urged her to get a restraining order, said her mother, Rose Braggs, but White didn't believe that would help.
Meminger's ex-wife couldn't be reached Thursday. But the couple's son said his family's thoughts and condolences are with White's family.
Maurice Meminger said his father had been a "good man and an awesome father."
Nevertheless, "his actions don't reflect our family," he said.
Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or email@example.com
Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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