Suspect in Texas Church Massacre Called His Father as He Fled Scene
The gunman suspected of carrying out a deadly shooting at a Texas church on Sunday called his father as he fled the scene in his car, authorities revealed at an official press conference.
Devin Kelley, 26, entered the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs at around noon on Sunday, Nov. 5, clad in armor and armed with an assault rifle, killed 26 people, wounded 20, and walked out.
Outside the church, he encountered an armed good Samaritan who shot and wounded Kelley. The suspect dropped his rifle, ran to his car, jumped in and began to flee.
The good Samaritan flagged another Texas man and the two began to pursue the suspect in their vehicle.
“We know during that pursuit the suspect used his cellphone to notify his father that he has been shot and didn’t think he was going to make it,” said Freeman Martin, a regional director with the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Investigators believe that Kelley then shot himself. He was found dead in his vehicle when authorities arrived.
Martin said that although investigators believe Kelley died from a self-inflicted wound, the pathologists will provide a final say on his cause of death.
Once the shooting started Sunday at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, there was probably “no way” for congregants to escape, Wilson County Sheriff Joe D. Tackitt Jr. said.
The gunman fired an assault rifle as he walked down the center aisle during worship services. He turned around and continued shooting on his way out of the building, Tackitt said.
The gunman also carried a handgun, but authorities he did not know if it was fired. Tackitt described the scene as “terrible.”
“It’s unbelievable to see children, men, and women, laying there. Defenseless people,” he said.
The dead ranged in age from 5 to 72 years old. About 20 other people were wounded.
The gunman’s former in-laws attended services at the church “from time to time” but were not there Sunday, Tackitt told CNN on Monday.
Kelley received a bad conduct discharge from the Air Force for assaulting his spouse and child and was sentenced to 12 months of confinement after a 2012 court-martial.
The Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits possession of firearms by those who were dishonorably discharged.
The attacker pulled into a gas station across from the church, about 30 miles southeast of San Antonio, around 11:20 a.m. Sunday.
He crossed the street and started firing the rifle at the church, then continued firing after entering the white wood-frame building, said Martin.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.