The former commander of 1st Special Forces Group, who was charged with assault and kidnapping after a 2020 armed standoff with police involving his wife and children, has been found guilty of three out of the seven charges against him.
Col. Owen Ray was found guilty of reckless endangerment, felony harassment and second-degree assault while armed. The second count of second-degree assault was dismissed and Ray was found not guilty of first-degree kidnapping and two additional counts of felony harassment.
The Army quietly allowed Ray, who last served as chief of staff of Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s I Corps, to retire after the incident with an honorable discharge.
Ray will be sentenced during a hearing on Oct. 28. He faces up to 10 years in prison, and is currently on a no-bail hold at the Pierce County Jail in Washington.
“He’s not up there to say goodbye to his kids,” Pierce County deputy prosecutor Loren Halstrom said of Ray’s actions during the trial, as reported by the Tacoma News Tribune. “He’s not up there to explain why he’s going away, he’s up there because he wanted control. He wanted the power, and he had that power. He had the gun. He knows the power, the danger, the terror of having a gun.”
The charges against the former Green Beret stem from a Dec. 27, 2020, incident in which Ray got into an argument with his wife at his home near base. He went into his garage to get his guns, a rifle and a pistol, after saying “let’s do this,” as his wife hid with their children in the kids’ room, Pierce County prosecutors said in an affidavit.
After becoming even further “enraged” at his wife for calling emergency services, he proceeded to berate and beat her in front of their children, the affidavit added.
“He pointed the gun at [the wife] and threatened to kill her,” the affidavit stated. “He proceeded to kick [her] 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.’”
State and local police managed to talk Ray down after a two-hour stand-off.
A Special Forces “tab revocation” was initiated at the beginning of the year, Army Times previously reported, but no official word has been given as to whether Ray lost his beret and tab. Requests for comment to Army Human Resources Command on the matter were not returned.
While Army awards regulations state the commander of the Special Warfare Center and School can revoke the Special Forces tab and green beret if a soldier “has committed any act or engaged in any conduct inconsistent with the integrity, professionalism, and conduct of a SF Soldier,” it is unclear on who handles that action for a retiree.
“Many people [in the special operations community] generally aren’t happy with the outcome” of Ray’s military discipline, a source directly familiar with the move to revoke Ray’s tab told Army Times previously. “The perception is that he got off scot free...whereas a [staff sergeant] in his position would have gotten fried.”
In his trial this month, Ray’s defense team argued that his actions stemmed from years of unresolved battles with post traumatic stress disorder following eight deployments to the Middle East and Asia and 25 total years of service.
Rachel is a Marine Corps veteran and a master's candidate at New York University's Business & Economic Reporting program.