Texas Church Shooter Was In 'Conflict' With In-Laws, Officials Say
The man who killed 26 people at a church in Sutherland Springs on Sunday was in a "conflict" with his ex-mother-in-law, Department of Public Safety officials said at a press conference today.
"The shooter was at odds with his in-laws," Texas Rangers Major Freeman Martin said. "There was conflict between the two families."
Officials began the press conference by saying they would not discuss the names of the 26 victims, Devin Patrick Kelley's discharge from the Air Force for bad conduct in 2014, or his motive for the shooting.
Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt said yesterday, however, that his in-laws worshipped at the church and that he had sent threatening text messages to his ex-mother-in-law. Officials said she was not at the church on Sunday.
Law enforcement officials said Kelley used a semi-automatic weapon to shoot parishioners at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, about 30 miles east of San Antonio. Officials confirmed that an unborn child was counted among the dead. Other victims ranged in age from 18 months to 77 years old. Dozens of people were injured; 10 were still in critical condition today.
The gunman fled the church after he was confronted by Stephen Willeford, a resident who was armed with a rifle. That led to a high-speed chase, which resulted in Kelley losing control and crashing. Authorities found him dead in the car.
Authorities said he was hit by three bullets, two in the leg and torso from Willeford's rifle, and one in the head, which is believed to have been self-inflicted. Officials also said he called his father to say he had been shot and didn't expect to survive.
FBI Special Agent Christopher Combs said today that investigators were looking at his cellphone, but technology prevented them from accessing it.
Kelley, 26, served in the Air Force from 2010 until he received a bad conduct discharge in 2014. He had been court-martialed in 2012 for assaulting his then-wife and her infant son. His domestic violence offense wasn't entered into the national background check system, which would have prevented him from buying a gun.
Combs said Kelley was not in any FBI database.
Martin said there was no reason to believe anyone else was involved in the shooting or that there was any political or religious motivation.
Officials said the shooter's ex-wife and stepson were "OK."