SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX — The man who authorities say is responsible for the murder of at least 26 people during a church service on Sunday illegally purchased the firearms used to carry out the attack, say published reports.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday that Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, was denied a gun permit due to a 2012 conviction in which Kelley was charged with beating his then wife and infant stepson.
According to official records, Kelley was charged with “assault on his spouse and assault on their child,” while stationed at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.
“He assaulted his stepson severely enough that he fractured his skull, and he also assaulted his wife,” retired colonel Don Christensen, then chief prosecutor for the Air Force, said of Kelley’s history of violence. “He pled to intentionally doing it.”
One person who knew Kelley at that time had referred to him as “a monster” after the attack.
Kelley was ultimately sentenced in November of 2012 to 12 months’ confinement and reduction to lowest rank. After his confinement, he was discharged from the military with a dishonorable discharge.
Kelley reportedly purchased a Ruger-AR556 rifle in April 2016 from a gun store in San Antonio. On the required background forms in which he was asked if he had a “disqualifying criminal history,” Kelley answered, “no” (https://twitter.com/DianneG/status/927367172699164672).
Victims of Sunday morning’s attack at First Baptist Church, just outside San Antonio, range in age from 18 months to 77 years, Freeman Martin of the Texas Department of Public Safety said at a news briefing on Monday.
Although a wealth of potential motives have been reported in regard to the case, law enforcement agents say they are not investigating the incident as terrorism.
“This was not racially motivated, it wasn’t over religious beliefs,” Martin said. “There was a domestic situation going on within the family and the in-laws.”
Joe D. Tackitt Jr., the Wilson County sheriff, confirmed on Monday that Kelley’s in-laws had attended the church but were not there when the shooting occurred. It is not yet clear as to whether or not Kelly was aware of his in-laws’ absence.
Officials say that after opening fire inside the church, Kelley was chased in his vehicle by two good Samaritans who had witnessed the slaughter. One of the two men, now identified as Johnnie Langendorff, says he didn’t think about the consequences when he tried to apprehend Kelley. He just wanted the killings to stop.
It was “act now, ask questions later,” Langendorff told NBC News (https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/texas-church-shooting/texas-church-shooting-good-samaritan-says-stepping-was-right-thing-n817871. “He just hurt so many people, and he just affected so many people’s lives. Why wouldn’t you want to take him down?”
Langendorff says he fired upon Kelly in an effort to stop him and Kelley “eventually lost control on his own and went off in a ditch.”
Martin said that during the chase, Kelley called his father on his cellphone to say “he had been shot and didn’t think he was going to make it,” Martin said.
Kelley was later found dead inside his vehicle. An official cause of death is pending autopsy results.