Texas attack may have been motivated by ‘domestic’ situation

A Texas state trooper watches as two FBI investigators walk toward the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Monday. Photo by Larry W. Smith/EPA-EFE

Nov. 6 (UPI) — The Texas church shooter who killed more than two dozen people may have been motivated by a domestic situation, authorities said Monday.

The gunman, identified as Devin Patrick Kelley, was a former U.S. Air Force airman who officials said began having legal trouble in 2012. He was court-martialed and sentenced to military prison for assaulting his wife and child.

Investigators said at a news conference Monday that domestic issues may have been the motivation behind the shooting, as Kelley’s mother-in-law attended the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs and had received “threatening texts from him.”

Officials added that Kelley “expressed anger” toward his mother-in-law and that the attack was not racially or religiously motivated. Kelley’s in-laws were inside the church during the shooting.

Investigators said 14 of those killed were children — including the 14-year-old daughter of the pastor.

“Wherever you walked in the church, it was death,” Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt said.

Officials said Kelley, who did not have a gun permit, tried to leave the scene when a witness attempted to grab his weapon — a Ruger AR-556 assault-style rifle. Authorities said they recovered three firearms.

Investigators said Monday that Kelley called his father during the chase to let him know he was shot, and that he may have died “from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

“I never in a million years could have believed Devin could be capable of this kind of thing,” Dave Ivey, Kelley’s uncle, said. “My family will suffer because of his coward actions.”

Neighbors of the Kelley family claimed to hear gunfire at night, yet some still said it was “shocking” to hear of the shooting.

“You never think your neighbor is capable of something like that,” Mark Moravitz said. “If he did that, that kind of worries you, thinking we’ve been living next door to the guy.”

President Donald Trump, who is on a 12-day trip to Asia, spoke from Japan about the shooting during an appearance with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“I think that mental health is a problem here. Based on preliminary reports, this was a very deranged individual with a lot of problems over a very long period of time,” Trump said.

The president also said gun ownership was not a factor the attack.

“We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries, but this isn’t a guns situation … we could go into it but it’s a little bit soon to go into it,” Trump said. “Fortunately, somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction, otherwise, it wouldn’t have been as bad as it was, it would have been much worse.”

Investigators say surveillance video was recovered from inside the church and will be used in the investigation which “may go on for days.”


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