The man suspected of carrying out a deadly shooting in a Texas church on Sunday, Nov. 5, had ties to the house of worship through family members, according to the county sheriff.
Authorities in Texas confirmed the identity of the suspect on Monday morning. The Texas Department of Public Safety said that 26-year-old Devin Kelley is suspected of killing 26 people in a Sutherland Springs church.
Wilson County Sheriff Joe D. Tackitt Jr. told ABC 11 that the gunman’s former in-laws attended the church occasionally, but were not there on Sunday.
Earlier on Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott suggested there may have been a connection between the gunman and the Baptist church where the slayings happened.
Abbott told ABC’s “Good Morning America” he expects people will learn about any such link “in a few days.” He said he didn’t want to go further, saying “law enforcement is looking very aggressively into this.”
“I don’t think this was just a random act of violence,” Abbott told anchor George Stephanopoulos. But when pressed to elaborate on his connection theory, the governor replied,”It’s very important that law enforcement have the ability … to tie the loose ends of this investigation up.”
Abbott called the suspect “a very deranged individual.”
Kelley walked into the church armed with an assault rifle and wearing black tactical military gear.
Kelley was found dead in his vehicle shortly after the shooting.
An Air Force spokeswoman confirmed that Kelley received a bad conduct discharge after being court-martialed in 2012 for assaulting his spouse and child.
Authorities said they have yet to discover the motive for the attack.
School districts surrounding the South Texas town where a gunman killed 26 people at a church have added counselors to help comfort children, their families, and staff.
Sutherland Springs is a town of about 400 that does not have its own school. Nearby districts offered messages of caring and concern Monday, a day after the gunfire.
Officials said the victims ranged in age from 5 to 72 years old. Along with 26 dead, 20 others were wounded in the attack.
Superintendent Sherri Bays, of the Floresville Independent School District, wrote, “Our hearts are breaking for the families of the deceased and injured.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.