The suspected gunman believed to have killed at least 26 people at a Texas church has been named as Devin Patrick Kelley, a former member of the US air force who received a court martial for assault on his wife and child five years ago.
The 26-year-old reportedly entered the wooden-framed First Baptist Church on Sunday dressed in black tactical-style gear, a ballistic vest and carrying an assault rifle. He shot victims ranging in age from five to 72 years old, including a pregnant woman and the pastor’s 14-year-old daughter.
Air force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said records showed Kelley joined Logistics Readiness at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico in 2010.
She said he was court-martialled in 2012 for “assault on his spouse and child” and spent a year in a military prison and was given a reduction in rank. In 2014, Kelley received a bad conduct discharge, she added.
Kelley has not been formally named as the suspect. However, two officials, including one working in law enforcement, identified him as the alleged killer on the condition of anonymity to the Associated Press. He was also named by the New York Times and multiple other US outlets citing sources.
Investigators were looking at social media posts Kelley made in the days before Sunday’s attack, including one that appeared to show an AR-15 semiautomatic weapon, the rifle used in the massacre.
No motive has been declared for what the state governor, Greg Abbott, called the worst mass shooting in Texas history. It is not clear if Kelley had links to any militant groups.
Authorities described a white man in his 20s who pulled into a gas station across from the First Baptist Church around 11.20am on Sunday. He crossed the street and started firing the rifle at the building before entering and killing worshippers.
When he left, he was confronted by an armed resident as well as another local man, Johnnie Langendorff, who said they chased him until his car veered off the road.
“He just lost control,” Langendorff told a local TV station Ksat.com. “That is when I put the vehicle in park and I was still on the phone to dispatch [police]. The other gentleman jumped out and has his rifle drawn on him. He didn’t move after that.”
Police arrived with seven minutes and surrounded the gunman’s vehicle, he added.
Officials have said they found the suspect dead in his car surrounded by multiple weapons. US federal law bans people who have been dishonourably discharged from buying a firearm.
Kelley lived roughly 35 miles north of Sutherland Springs, a small settlement of just a few hundred people where the attack occurred.
Police reportedly entered a house linked to him in New Braunfels, outside San Antonio, on Sunday night hours after the shooting. Two people who lived near that address said they heard intense gunfire from that direction in recent days.
Sixteen-year-old Ryan Albers, who lives across the road from the listed home of the suspect, said was gunfire was “really loud. At first, I thought someone was blasting.”
He added: “It was someone using automatic weapon fire.”
Kelley had grown up in New Braunfels, in his parents’ nearly $1m home, the New York Times reported. He was sued for divorce in 2012 in New Mexico, the same year he was court-martialled, and remarried in 2014.
Source: Guardian (Uk)