The Texas church shooter had family connections to the church where he killed at least 26 on Sunday in what is now the worst mass shooting in the state’s history.
Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackett told reporters Monday morning that Devin Patrick Kelley’s ex in-laws attended the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs ‘from time to time’ but weren’t in attendance when he unleashed a firestorm of bullets during Sunday morning’s service.
It was previously reported that Kelley’s wife Danielle was a former teacher at the school, and that her mother Michelle was a parishioner.
But the sheriff’s revelation that it was his ex in-laws who attended the church indicates that he and Danielle may have had a falling out.
Sheriff Tackett said the family came to the church after the massacre to speak to investigators.
Neighbor Mark Moravitz told ABC News that Kelley lived at his parents’ home in New Braunfels with his wife. Moravitz said that he would sometimes hear gunshots coming for near the house late at night.
Marriage records show the two tied the knot in Comal County, Texas on April 4, 2014, when Kelley was 23 and his bride was 19.
Public records show he was also married once before to a Tessa K Kelley, who he married in April 2011. Kelley and his other wife divorced a year later – the same year that he was court-martialed for domestic violence.
Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said Kelley was court-martialed on one count of assault on his spouse and another count of assault on their child. He was sentenced to 12 months’ confinement, a reduction in rank and was discharged for bad conduct two years later.
Stefanek said Kelley served in Logistics Readiness at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010 until his discharge.
Kelley walked into the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, dressed in black, tactical gear with a ballistics belt and an assault rifle, and began shooting Sunday morning.
The attack only stopped when Kelley was confronted by local hero Stephen Willeford, 55, who shot him through a gap in his body armor as the gunman tried to leave the church. Kelley fled in his car, where he proceeded to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head.
At least 26 people were killed in the shooting, but the death toll is expected to climb, authorities say. Victims include a two-year-old girl and the 14-year-old adopted daughter of the pastor.
Eight members of one family, including a eight-months-pregnant mother and three of her children were killed. The Connally Memorial Medical Center said ‘multiple’ victims are being treated.
Last night, San Antonio police raided Kelley’s home with K9 and bomb squad units, along with agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives unit and FBI.
Horrific details of the attack have started to emerge with police saying there was likely ‘no way’ for congregants to escape. Wilson County Sheriff Joe D. Tackitt Jr. said: ‘He (Kelley) just walked down the center aisle, turned around and my understanding was shooting on his way back out. It’s unbelievable to see children, men and women, laying there. Defenseless people.’
Kelley was a US Air Force veteran and former Bible studies teacher but his Facebook page, which has been deleted by the FBI, reveals he had a worrying fascination with weaponry.
He’d recently shared a photo of an AR-15 style gun on Facebook with the caption: ‘She’s a bad b***h.’
A LinkedIn account which appears to be Kelley’s states that he joined the US Air Force after graduating New Braunfels High School in 2009. The Pentagon confirmed he was an airman ‘at one point,’ but did not release further details.
He worked in logistics and supply in the Air Force until he was kicked out for assaulting his wife and their child. Kelley was court-martialled for two counts of assaulting his spouse and kid, and received 12 months ‘confinement’ and a dishonorable discharge in 2014, CBS reported.
Kelley then volunteered as a teacher for Bible studies at Kingsville First Baptist Church, according to his LinkedIn which shows him posing which a young child. He was reportedly employed by Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resort in New Braunfels and licensed by the Texas Department of Public Safety as a security guard at the time of the shooting.
Former classmates described him as ‘creepy’, ‘crazy’ and an ‘outcast’ who had recently started preaching about atheism and picking fights on social media. However, local law enforcement say he had a relatively clean criminal record, with just a traffic offenses in recent years.
Police are now investigating the possibility that Kelley was in a local militia group.