Texas authorities are claiming that Devin Patrick Kelley, the suspect behind the deadly shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, was motivated by a “domestic situation” to carry out the horrific rampage.
Freeman Martin, the San Antonio Region Director for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said during a Monday press conference that the shooting was not motivated by race or religion. Instead, investigators are focusing on threatening text messages that Kelley, 26, sent to his mother-in-law.
“It’s a senseless crime. But we can tell you that there was a domestic situation going on within this family,” Martin said. “The suspect’s mother-in-law attended this church. We know that he had made threatening – she had received threatening texts from him.”
“And we can’t go into details about that domestic situation that is continuing to be vetted and thoroughly investigated. But we want to get that out there, that this was not racially motivated. It wasn’t over religious beliefs. There was a domestic situation going on within the family with the in-laws.”
Kelley reportedly stormed the church on Sunday, dressed in all black and tactical gear, before opening fire with an assault rifle, CBS News reported. At least 26 people were killed and 20 more injured in the mayhem.
When Kelley attempted to flee the church, he was shot by a local resident wielding a rifle. Kelley fled in his own car while the resident flagged down a driver to follow him, and the pair chased Kelley until he crashed his car.
By the time police arrived, Kelley was dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. He reportedly called his father before killing himself to tell him that he didn’t think he would live much longer.
Kelley, who served in the U.S. Air Force from 2010 to 2014, was court-martialed in 2012 for two counts of assault on his then-wife and her child in an incident that caused the little boy to severe a skull fracture. The case resulted in a bad conduct discharge.
Court records also reveal numerous allegations of domestic abuse and animal cruelty against Kelley, while acquaintances and former classmates described him as unstable and unfriendly.