At least 26 people were killed and 20 others were injured at Sunday’s shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, TX. The shooter has been identified as Devin Kelley, 26, who is now dead. Who is Kelley, and what was his motive?
Kelley, a former unarmed security guard at a waterpark, has a rap sheet of alleged violence. He plead guilty in 2012 to assaulting his then-wife and stepson; the latter suffered a fractured skull as a result of Kelley’s violence. Kelley was serving in the Air Force at the time and was dishonorably discharged as a result of his actions.
Additionally, Kelley was accused of punching a dog in 2014, an allegation he denied and the charges against him were dropped. Some women have accused Kelley of stalking them, including one who claimed he stalked her when she was 13 years old.
Those who knew in high school described him as being socially awkward and creepy. One former classmate of his told the Daily Mail that Kelley “always creeped me out.” Another wrote on Facebook that Kelley “got in an argument with me in school and tried to punch me several times.”
Other former classmates noted that Kelley frequently berated people online who didn’t subscribe to his atheist worldview.
“He was always talking about how people who believe in God we’re stupid and trying to preach his atheism,” Nina Rose Nava, a former classmate of Kelley’s, wrote on Facebook.
Kelley also recently posted a photo of a firearm resembling an AR-15 to his now deleted Facebook profile, writing “She’s a bad b*tch.” Kelley had an AR-15 and a handgun on him during the shooting.
Under federal law, it is illegal for those who have assaulted or attempted to assault a family member to own a firearm. But Kelley was able to obtain his firearms because the Air Force didn’t provide the FBI with Kelley’s violent history, thus resulting in his background checks to come back clean.
However, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) told CNN that Texas denied Kelley from obtaining a right-to-carry permit.
Prior to the shooting, Kelley had reportedly been texting threats to his mother-in-law, Michelle Shields, who is a member of the First Baptist Church in which the shooting took place. Shields was not present at the church at the day of the shooting, but Kelley’s grandmother-in-law, Lula Woicinski White, was at the church and killed by Kelley.
Kelley and his current wife Danielle are reportedly separated.
Kelley fled the scene of his crime after Stephen Willeford, a former National Rifle Association (NRA) instructor, heard the gunshots from across the street and fired his gun at Kelley.
“I know I hit him,” Willeford told a local news station. “He got into his vehicle, and he fired another couple rounds through his side window. When the window dropped, I fired another round at him again.”
Willeford hopped into another man’s truck and they chased down Kelley. Kelley’s car crashed, and it is believed that he shot himself before law enforcement arrived.