26 Dead in South Texas Church Shooting
The incident, which took place in a small community about 40 miles outside of San Antonio, has been called the largest mass shooting in Texas history.
- By Jessica Davis
- Nov 06, 2017
[UPDATE: November 6, 2017, 2:30 p.m.]
A 26-year-old armed man named Devin Patrick Kelley entered a Baptist church during services Sunday morning and killed 26 people ranging in age from 17 months to 77 years in what Governor Greg Abbott called the largest mass shooting in Texas history.
The church regularly records videos of its services to post on a YouTube channel. Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Director Freeman Martin said in a press conference Monday, “I can tell you there is video recording from inside the church that has been secured.” The contents of the video have not been disclosed.
"This was not racially motivated. It wasn't over religious beliefs. There was a domestic situation going on with the family and in-laws,” Martin said.
According to Martin, Kelley’s mother-in-law attended the church and had received threatening text messages from him as recently as Sunday morning. Kelley’s in-laws were not in attendance Sunday, Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt told CNN. However, his wife’s grandmother was among the victims.
Investigators are still looking for answers as to how Kelley was able to purchase his weapons, two in Colorado and two in Texas. According to ATF Special Agent in Charge Fred Milanowski, “In general, if an individual has a dishonorable discharge from the military they would be precluded from buying a firearm.” Kelley was given a bad-conduct discharge from the Air Force in 2014 for assaulting his spouse and their child.
Kelley had also applied and been turned down for a Texas right-to-carry permit. “It was after that that he was able to buy this gun,” Abbott said. “So there’s ongoing information that needs to be gathered.”
Original story below.
At least 26 people are dead and 20 injured after a gunman opened fire in a Baptist church during services on Sunday morning. The incident, which took place in a small community about 40 miles outside of San Antonio, has been called the largest mass shooting in Texas history.
The gunman, who has been identified as 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley, , was dressed in black tactical-style gear and wearing a ballistic vest when he parked in front of the church at 11:20 a.m. and fired a few rounds outside the church before entering through the front doors. He then entered the sanctuary and opened fire with a Ruger-AR556 rifle. Many witnesses say Kelley stopped to reload his gun several times.
As Kelley exited the church, he was confronted by an armed local resident. Kelley then dropped his rifle and fled in his vehicle, pursued by the man who confronted him and another armed resident, also by vehicle.
The chase ended after Kelley crashed his car and was found dead. According to Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackett, he suffered gunshot wounds from a civilian as well as a self-inflicted gunshot wound, which killed him. Multiple weapons were found in his vehicle.
Kelley served in the U.S. Air Force’s Logistics Readiness unit at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010 until his discharge in 2014. In 2012, he was court-martialed on charges of assaulting his wife and child, and given a bad-conduct discharge, confinement for 12 months and a reduction in rank, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said.
Military members dishonorably discharged cannot legally purchase a gun, but Kelly’s bad-conduct charge fell short of that mark. No disqualifying information showed up in Kelley’s records when they were searched as he was trying to buy a rifle, and he checked the box on the paperwork to indicate a lack of disqualifying criminal history, a law enforcement official said.
CNN reports Kelley tried to get a license to carry a gun in Texas but the state denied him.
"So how was it that he was able to get a gun? By all the facts that we seem to know, he was not supposed to have access to a gun," Gov. Greg Abbott told CNN. "So how did this happen?"
President Donald Trump commented on the deadly shooting from his trip to Japan stating he was sympathetic to the victims and their families after this “act of evil.”
“May God be w/ the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas,” Trump tweeted on Sunday. “The FBI & law enforcement are on the scene. I am monitoring the situation from Japan.”
The dead ranged in age from 5 to 72 years old. Among those killed was the 14-year-old daughter of church Pastor Frank Pomeroy. Pomeroy and his wife were out of town.
This is at least the third deadly shooting at a U.S. church in the past three years and the second mass shooting in the last month, following the Las Vegas shooting in October.