Law enforcement officials reported Monday that they do not believe Sunday’s massacre at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, was racially or religiously motivated. Instead, authorities have reported the motive seems to be more of a domestic dispute.
It was revealed that the shooter, Devin Patrick Kelley, had sent “threatening texts to his mother-in-law who went to the church.”
“We know that he expressed anger toward his mother-in-law,” said Texas Department of Public Safety regional director Freeman Martin at a press conference Monday morning. “There was a domestic situation going on within the family and the in-laws,” he said.
Kelley’s mother-in-law was a member of the church but was not attending services Sunday morning when Kelley walked into the church, dressed in black and wearing tactical gear, and opened fire, killing 26 people and wounding another 20. The youngest victim was an 18-month-old child, and the eldest was 77 years old.
Martin stated that 23 people were killed inside the church. Two others were found dead outside the church, and another died after being taken to the hospital.
As he left the church, Kelley was confronted by an armed resident who reportedly wounded him with a gunshot, causing Kelley to drop his gun and flee in his car. The armed resident and another man, Johnnie Langendorff, then pursued him, until he eventually lost control of his vehicle and crashed his car.
Authorities said it appears that Kelley died of a self-inflicted gunshot after he crashed his car. He had reportedly called his father on his cell phone to say that he had been shot and didn’t think he would survive.
Kelley was sentenced to one year in a military jail in 2012 for attacking his spouse and child and was given a dishonorable discharge from the Air Force in 2014. Martin said Kelley did not have a license to carry a concealed handgun. In a recent social media post, Kelley had reportedly shown a picture of an AR-15 semi-automatic firearm.
The Associated Press reported: “Three guns were recovered. A Ruger AR-556 rifle was found at the church, and two handguns were recovered from the suspect’s vehicle, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.”
The Washington Examiner reported: “Kelley purchased four weapons over the last four years, beginning in 2014. Two were purchased in Colorado, and two were purchased in Texas.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told “CBS This Morning” that Kelley was not legally eligible to buy firearms and had been denied a state gun permit.
“Current law, as it exists right now, should have prevented him from being able to get a gun. I can tell you that before he made this purchase, he tried to get a gun permit in the state of Texas and was denied that permit,” Abbott said.
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