Church Shooting Suspect Was Denied Gun Carry License, Governor Says
The man suspected of killing 26 people in a Texas church on Sunday was denied a license to carry a gun, according to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
Suspected gunman Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, walked into the white-steepled First Baptist Church in rural Sutherland Springs carrying an assault rifle and wearing black tactical gear, then opened fire during a Sunday prayer service. He wounded at least 20 others, officials said.
Kelley was thrown out of the U.S. Air Force for beating his wife and child. The Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits possession of firearms by those who were dishonorably discharged.
After Kelley left the church, two local residents, at least one of whom was armed, chased him in their vehicles and exchanged gunfire with Kelley, who crashed his car and shot himself to death, Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt told CBS News in an interview on Monday morning.
“At this time we believe that he had a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” Tackitt said.
The attack came a little more than a month after another gunman killed 58 people in Las Vegas in the deadliest shooting in U.S. history.
The initial death toll matched the number of dead in the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where a man shot and killed 26 children and educators. Those attacks now stand as the fourth deadliest in the United States.
Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott told CBS there was evidence that Kelley had mental health problems.
“It’s clear this is a person who had violent tendencies, who had some challenges, and someone who was a powder keg, seeming waiting to go off,” Abbott said.
The victims in Sutherland Springs, a community of fewer than 400 people, located about 40 miles east of San Antonio, included the 14-year-old daughter of church pastor Frank Pomeroy, the family told several television stations.
One couple, Joe and Claryce Holcombe, told the Washington Post they lost eight extended family members, including a pregnant granddaughter-in-law and three of her children.
At the suspect’s home, located in an isolated area of New Braunfels about 35 miles north of Sutherland Springs, a Comal County Sheriff vehicle blocked the entrance. A “beware of dog” sign was affixed to the gate where a dented mailbox bears the address.
Kelley served in the Logistics Readiness unit at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010 until his discharge in 2014, according to the U.S. Air Force.
Kelley was court-martialed in 2012 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.
Reuters contributed to this report.