MARSHALL (KYTX) -- An East Texas pastor is behind bars accused of trying to solicit a minor for sex on the internet. The arrest happened today at a church in Marshall. CBS 19's Abby Broyles takes us to Marshall for the latest on the investigation tonight.
Texas Rangers led in the arrest today of Raymond Cooper, senior pastor of Marshall First Church of the Nazarene. The arrest happened after an undercover sting that started in Louisiana.
Marshall First Church of the Nazarene's senior pastor, 42-year old Raymond Earl Cooper, is facing felony charges after investigators say he tried to solicit a 14-year old girl in an online chat room April 9th. But that 14-year old girl was actually an undercover Louisiana State Police Officer in Lafayette. Investigators tracked Cooper's internet account to an address in Marshall, and police in Louisiana contacted the Texas Rangers.
"They approached Ranger Dudley concerning the information, [and] the investigation led them to a location here in Marshall, which was 907 Pocono Street," Asst. Marshall Police Chief Leland Benoit said.
907 Pocono street is Marshall First Church of the Nazarene. Cooper and his family live in this home on the property behind the church.
Texas Rangers, police from Louisiana and Marshall arrested Cooper at his home around 10:00 Wednesday morning.
"Our crime scene unit assisted as to documentation [and] photographs. We transported the arrestee to the Harrison County Jail," Benoit said.
Investigators collected evidence at Cooper's home Wednesday, where they believe the online conversations happened in April. Police say Cooper chatted inappropriately with the undercover officer using a webcam.
"This is probably a perfect example of multi-jurisdictional, crossing state lines, to protect the children of not only Texas, but Louisiana and anyone else who may choose to do this," Benoit said.
Cooper has been the senior pastor at Marshall First Church of the Nazarene since October. The whole thing came a shock to neighbors Wednesday. No one wanted to appear on camera, but they said they feel for the family.
Texas Rangers tell us while the investigation started in Louisiana, Cooper is charged here in Texas and he'll be prosecuted in Harrison County.
Police are still investigating to see if cooper has done anything like this in the past. We tried to reach church members for comment today, but church offices were closed.
Cooper is in the Harrison County jail tonight charged with online solicitation of a minor. He will be arraigned tomorrow morning.