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UPDATE: Texas Church Gunman Was Able To Buy Guns Because Of Air Force Lapse

Authorities said the gunman who opened fire in a Texas church had sent threatening text messages to his mother-in-law, who attended the church; Texas DPS confirmed that the mass shooting stemmed from a domestic situation and was not racially or religiously motivated

THE LATEST on the church shooting in Texas (all times local):

6:20 p.m.

Texas law enforcement authorities say the gunman who killed 26 members of a church on Sunday was shot three times, twice by a citizen.

Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Director Freeman Martin says Devin Patrick Kelley was shot in his leg and torso by a citizen who pursued him after hearing gunfire. Martin says the third was, "consistent with being self-inflicted."

Authorities say they've collected hundreds of shell casings and 15 magazines that hold 30 rounds each at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, where Kelley opened fire Sunday.

The dead ranged from 18 months to 77 years old and included multiple members of some families.

Authorities say 10 victims remain in critical condition and four are in serious condition.


5:35 p.m.

The Air Force says it failed to report the Texas church shooter's domestic violence conviction to the FBI as required by Pentagon rules.

Devin Patrick Kelley was convicted of assault against his wife and stepson in an Air Force court-martial in New Mexico in 2012. The conviction should have disqualified him from buying or possessing firearms.

Information about such convictions is supposed to be submitted to the FBI for inclusion in the National Criminal Information Center database.

The Air Force said in a statement that the top two Air Force officials — Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein — have ordered a review of the Kelley case.

Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek says the Pentagon will also ensure records in other cases have been reported correctly across the Department of Defense.

The church shooting left 26 people dead and 20 wounded.


5 p.m.

The man some call a hero for engaging in a shootout with the Texas church gunman is a former National Rifle Association instructor.

Stephen Willeford says in an interview with KHBS/KHOG television in Arkansas that he was at home in Sutherland Springs when his daughter heard gunfire at the church.

Willeford says he retrieved his rifle, loaded it and ran barefoot to the church. He says: "I kept hearing the shots, one after another, very rapid shots … and I knew every one of those shots represented someone."

Willeford says he hid behind a pickup truck and exchanged fire with the gunman, adding: "I know I hit him."

The gunman, Devin Kelley, got into his vehicle and fled. Willeford says he ran to a pickup truck and asked the driver, later identified as Johnnie Langendorff, to help him.

They sped after the gunman. Kelley's vehicle hit a road sign and flipped into a roadside ditch.

Willeford says he got out of the truck, perched his rifle on the truck's rooftop and yelled, "get out of the truck," but saw no movement. Law enforcement came to the scene. They believe the gunman took his own life.


4:35 p.m.

The American flag mounted on the fence of Michael Ward's home in Sutherland Springs was hanging upside down Monday. Neighbors say it had been that way since the Oct. 1 Las Vegas shooting, an apparent memorial to the 58 victims of that attack.

Now the Ward family has lost several relatives, including children, in the Texas church shooting.

Leslie Ward was setting up for a yard sale at the house when she heard gunfire.

Her husband, Michael Ward, tells The Dallas Morning News that he ran inside the church and carried out his 5-year-old nephew, Ryland, who had four gunshot wounds.

Ryland was transferred by helicopter to a San Antonio hospital. The boy's mother and two of his sisters were among 26 people killed.

On Monday, items were arranged for the yard sale, but no one was there. The flag remained upside down.


4.30 p.m.

US Air Force issues statement saying that identified Sutherland Springs church shooter Devin Patrick Kelley’s domestic violence offense was never entered into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.


4:15 p.m.

The owner of a restaurant and store across the street from the Texas church shooting says she sheltered one bloodied survivor.

Terrie Smith says she saw the shooter's body "shaking" from the recoil of his weapon as he opened fire outside the church.

Texas Man Describes Pursuit of Church Gunman

Fighting back tears, Smith said she and several customers fell to the ground and crawled back to the store.

She says they locked themselves in and heard firing while the gunman was inside the church.

Smith says that a victim ran out "all bloody in his arms and face." She says: "We let him in. He said ‘somebody went in and shot everybody. My family is in there, my family is in there.'" The unidentified man then tfell to the ground.

The shooting left 26 people dead and 20 injured.


Florian Martin | Houston Public Media
Entrance to property where Sutherland Springs shooter Devin Kelley lived on FM 2722 in New Braunfels.


3:15 p.m.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz says that the “bravery and courage” of a citizen who shot back at the gunman in the Texas church attack should be celebrated.

The Republican senator from Texas spoke after talking to law enforcement officials and visiting the church in Sutherland Springs where Devin Kelley killed 26 people and wounded about 20 more.

When a reporter asked Cruz about gun control, he noted the recent terrorist attack with a truck in New York and said “Evil is evil.”

He then lauded the “ordinary citizen” who engaged the gunman. Cruz says that law enforcement officers showed him where the citizen hid behind a car and took incoming shots from the gunman.

Cruz said he asked law enforcement what would have happened if the citizen had not used his own gun to confront Kelley. Cruz said they responded that the death toll would have been higher.

Authorities have recovered an AR-556 rifle and two handguns belonging to the suspect — Devin Patrick Kelley. During a press conference, Cruz was asked whether he would consider or support new gun control measures in the wake of the shooting.

“t is an unfortunate thing that the immediate place the media goes after any tragedy, after any murder, is politicizing it. We don’t need politics right now.”

Cruz says he toured the suspect’s crime scene path. The senator praised the neighbor who confronted the suspect and exchanged gunfire with him.

“Because of that individual’s bravery, shot the gun man. And as a result, stopped this murder spree.”



Senator John Cornyn of Texas also provided a statement on yesterday’s shooting.

"It is impossible to comprehend what it must have felt like to wake up this morning in Sutherland Springs, a small, tight-knit community roughly 35 miles southeast of San Antonio. So many neighbors lost. The sound of yesterday’s gunfire and sirens still ringing in the air."

‘We know, thankfully, that two good Samaritans turned on and pursued the shooter and may have prevented this nightmare from lasting even longer. And we are grateful for the heroism and the quick, decisive action of these two men."

"Yesterday I spoke with Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt, Jr. and offered not only my condolences, but my unequivocal and complete support."

"We know the investigation into exactly what happened and why is ongoing, and it’s important that we allow this investigation to be completed so we can know exactly what happened and exactly what we might be able to do to prevent tragedies like this from occurring in the future. I hope that Texans who call Sutherland Springs and First Baptist Church home will soon have some answers."

"I hope each of us will pledge to be a light in the darkness, and to the families whose lives are forever changed by atrocity, let us provide a strong shoulder of support."



2:45 p.m.

Authorities say of the 26 people who were killed, 23 were whot inside the First Baptist Church, 2 were shot outside, and 1 died in the hospital.


The gunman in a mass shooting at a Texas church had been arrested for animal cruelty in Colorado in 2014.

An El Paso County Sheriff’s Office affidavit says deputies arrested Devin Patrick Kelley at a Colorado Springs RV park where he lived.

One neighbor told a deputy that Kelley chased the young Husky, jumped on top of it and struck the dog with a closed fist several times. Another neighbor says Kelley grabbed the dog, threw it into the air, then onto the ground and dragged it to his camper.

Kelley initially refused to leave the camper to speak with officers in the Aug. 1, 2014 incident. He denied abusing the dog.

Officers arrested Kelley for misdemeanor animal cruelty and took the Husky to a veterinary center.

Kelley was given a deferred probationary sentence and was ordered to pay $368 in restitution. He complied with the sentence.


2.40 pm

Col. Don Christensen (ret.), who was the chief prosecutor of the Air Force at the time of Devin Patrick Kelley’s court-martial, tells NPR that Kelley's conviction legally barred him from possessing firearms under federal law.

Kelley was convicted of assault, punishable by 5 years. He was sentenced to 12 months (less than the maximum) – but a conviction for a crime punishable by more than 1 year triggers the federal ban.

And the assault conviction was for an act of domestic violence, which also triggers the ban, under a clause known as the Lautenberg Amendment.

"Kelley fractured his baby step-son's skull and then he also assaulted his wife." Chistensen said.

Kelley accepted a plea deal, pleading to “intentionally inflicting grevious bodily harm" on the child and assaulting his wife. He received a cap of 18 months on his maximum sentence.

Christensen says it's possible the civilian authorities did not realize the conviction disqualified Kelley from gun ownership twice over. He explains how that confusion might be possible:

"One of the problems with reporting is that we use terms in the military, we don't use felony or misdemeanor, we don't have a specific offense for domestic violence. It‘s possible the notice went out that he was sentenced to 1 year confinement and not noted that he could have been sentenced to 5 years, and that it was for assault. If they didn't make it clear it was for domestic assault, maybe the civilian authorities never realized he had been convicted of qualifying offenses."

Kelley accepted a plea deal, pleading guilty to a charge of assault on his wife and to a charge of “intentionally inflicting grievous bodily harm” on the child, Christensen says. His crimes were punishable by up to 5 years confinement (the military equivalent of a prison term). As part of the deal, Kelley received an 18-month cap on his confinement, and was ultimately sentenced to 12 months.

Kelley’s punitive discharge — a bad conduct discharge — did not prohibit him from owning a gun, as a dishonorable discharge would have.

But under federal law, anyone convicted of “a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year” is prohibited from possessing a firearm. The same is true for anyone convicted of “a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.”

Kelley’s conviction qualified under both categories, Christensen says.

It’s not clear if his conviction was listed in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or if he would have been flagged as ineligible to purchase a firearm.



Kelley purchased four guns over a four-year period, according to federal officials; all those purchases were made after his court-martial conviction.


The manager at Summit Vacation Resort in New Braunfels Claudia Varjabedian confirms he had been working there for about five weeks as an unarmed security guard. "Nobody bonded with him. Nobody really spoke with him other than training him to do his jobs." He didn't show up for work on Sunday.

Florian Martin | Houston Public Media
Devin Kelley’s address is the same as his father’s software business.


Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, will travel to Texas on Wednesday to meet with those affected by Sunday’s church shooting.

Announcing his travel plans in a tweet, Pence says he will visit family members of those killed, those injured in the attack, and first responders in Sutherland Springs.

Pence says, “We are with you Texas.”

At least 26 people were killed Sunday by a lone gunman, identified by police as Devin Kelley, and about 20 more were wounded.

President Donald Trump is in the midst of a 12-day trip to Asia.


12:20 p.m.

Authorities in Texas say law enforcement went to the home of the suspected church gunman three years ago to investigate a domestic violence complaint involving him and his then-girlfriend.

Paul Anthony, a spokesman for the Comal County district attorney's office, told The Associated Press that sheriff's deputies were called just after 10 p.m. on Feb. 1, 2014, to the New Braunfels home of Devin Patrick Kelley and his family.

Citing a sheriff's office report, Anthony says a friend of Kelley's girlfriend told authorities she received a text message from the girlfriend that indicated "her boyfriend was abusing her." When sheriff's deputies arrived at the home, they were told by people in the house that there was no problem.

No arrests were made. Kelley married Danielle Shields two months later.

Kelley was discharged from the Air Force the same year after being punished for allegedly assaulting his spouse and child.


Florian Martin | Houston Public Media
FBC pastor Frank Pomeroy and wife Sherri Newman Pomeroy

Devin Patrick Kelley’s court-martial paper:


11.46 a.m.

The US Air Force (USAF) confirmed at a press conference that Devin Patrick Kelley, identified by Texas officials as the gunman that killed 26 and injured 20 on Sunday at a Sutherland Springs church, was discharged in 2014 for bad conduct. Authorities are investigating if his discharge should have affected his ability to buy a firearm.

If he was dishonorably discharged from USAF, he wouldn’t be allowed to purchase firearms, the Texas Arms, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau (ATF) said.


11.25 a.m.

The special agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives field office in Houston says three guns have been recovered from the suspect in the deadly church shootings in Texas.

Fred Milanowski (mil-uh-NOW’-skee) said during a news conference Monday that officers recovered a Ruger AR-556 rifle at the church.

Milanowski said two additional handguns were recovered from the vehicle driven by Devin Patrick Kelley — a Glock 9mm and a Ruger .22-caliber. Milanowski says all three weapons were purchased by the now-deceased suspect.

Freeman Martin with the Texas Department of Public Safety said Kelley did not have a license to carry a concealed handgun. He says he did have a “noncommissioned, unarmed private security license similar to a security guard at a concert-type situation.”


Florian Martin | Houston Public Media
Presser with Sheriff, DPS, FBI, ATF, DA


11.00 a.m.

Authorities say the gunman who opened fire in a Texas church had sent threatening text messages to his mother-in-law, who attended the church.

Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Director Freeman Martin said Monday that the mass shooting stemmed from a domestic situation and was not racially or religiously motivated.

Authorities say that evidence at the scene leads them to believe that Devin Patrick Kelley died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after he crashed his car. He had been chased by armed bystanders.

They say Kelley also used his cellphone to tell his father that he had been shot and didn’t think he would survive.



Officials in Texas said at a press conference on Monday that they have video of the shooting that took place on Sunday at a church in Sutherland Springs, 30 miles South East of San Antonio. They did not elaborate on further details about the images.

The Texas Department of Public Safety also said that 10 to the injured victims remained in critical condition and confirmed that the ages of those killed at the mass shooting ranged from 18 months to over 70-yrs old.

The FBI also said there is no terrorism investigation opened at this time on the shooting that left 26 dead and 20 injured.





10.30 a.m.

Authorities believe the man suspected of killing 26 people and injuring about 20 others at a Texas church shot himself following a car wreck.

Wilson County Sheriff Joe D. Tackitt Jr. tells CBS News that police found Devin Patrick Kelley dead inside his vehicle Sunday shortly after the shootings in Sutherland Springs.

Tackitt says Kelley was being pursued by two community members and investigators believe gunfire was exchanged before Kelley’s vehicle crashed.

The sheriff says investigators believe Kelley shot himself after the wreck.




10 a.m.

The man suspected of killing 26 people and injuring about 20 more at a Texas church had previously been charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty in east-central Colorado.

Court records in El Paso County indicate Devin Patrick Kelley was cited on Aug. 1, 2014, when he lived in a mobile home park near Colorado Springs. He was given a deferred probationary sentence and was ordered to pay $368 in restitution. The charge was dismissed in March 2016 after Kelley completed his sentence.

The Denver Post reports court records indicate someone was granted a protection order against Kelley on Jan. 15, 2015, also in El Paso County.


9:50 a.m.

A manager at a vacation resort says the gunman who opened fire at a Texas church worked for the resort as security guard.

Claudia Varjabedian is a manager at the Summit Vacation Resort in New Braunfels. She told The Associated Press on Monday that Devin Patrick Kelley had been working there the past month and a half.

She says Kelley “seemed like a nice guy” and didn’t give her any problems. She said he worked unarmed on his shift as the day security guard.

The riverside resort in the Texas Hill Country is near Kelley’s apparent home off a rural highway. Sheriff’s deputies were still blocking the gate to his property Monday morning.

Florian Martin | Houston Public Media
Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt talks to reporters at the scene.


Several people remain hospitalized after a shooting at a South Texas church that killed 26 and injured more than 20 others.

Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt says 12-14 children among victims.

An official with University Health System in San Antonio said five people remained hospitalized Monday — three children and two adults. Martha Rendon (ren-DOHN’) says the patients range in age from 4 to 57 years old, with their conditions listed as being from serious to critical.

Rendon also says one of the victims who died Sunday was a pediatric patient that had been transported to the hospital. She declined to release further details on the child.

A spokeswoman for Connally Memorial Medical Center in Floresville said one person was listed in stable condition Monday. Megan Posey declined to release additional details on the patient.

Officials with Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, which received eight patients on Sunday, did not immediately provide an update Monday.



Officials in Texas have confirmed the identity of the man suspected of killing 26 people at a South Texas church.

The Texas Department of Public Safety on Monday morning said 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley is the suspect. DPS said that Kelley lived in New Braunfels, which is about 35 miles north of the Sutherland Springs church where the shooting occurred.

A short time after the shooting Sunday, the suspect was found dead in his vehicle at the county line.

On Sunday, two officials who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity had identified the gunman as Kelley.

DPS says more information will be released later Monday.



A South Carolina musician with a similar name as the man identified as the gunman in a mass shooting at a Texas church says he’s frustrated by hateful message he’s received online.

Devin Patrick said on his Facebook page late Sunday that he’s saddened by the shooting but at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. But Patrick says his only connection with the tragedy is his name and asks people not to contact him about the shooting.

Authorities have identified the gunman as Devin Patrick Kelley. Officials say 26 people were killed Sunday in an attack that claimed people ranging in age from 5 to 72 years old.

Authorities said about 20 others were wounded. The suspect was later found dead in his vehicle.

Matt Largey | KUT
Vigil in Sutherland Springs, Texas, for victims of the church mass shooting that happened earlier on No.v. 5th, 2017



School districts surrounding a 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 say the victims ranged in age from 5 to 72 years old.

Superintendent Sherri Bays, of the Floresville Independent School District, wrote: “Our hearts are breaking for the families of the deceased and injured.”

District spokeswoman Kim Cathey says some Sutherland Springs children attend Floresville ISD schools. Cathey had no immediate information on whether any victims were from the district.

Similar messages of prayers and support were offered by the Stockdale ISD and the La Vernia ISD.




A sheriff says the former in-laws of a man suspected of killing 26 people at a Texas church attended services there “from time to time.”

Wilson County Sheriff Joe D. Tackitt Jr. told CNN Monday morning that the former in-laws weren’t in attendance Sunday when the shooting occurred. He says it wasn’t clear why the gunman picked that day for the shooting.

The mass shooting occurred Sunday morning at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, about 30 miles southeast of San Antonio. About 20 others were wounded in the attack.

Two officials who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity identified the gunman as Devin Kelley. An Air Force spokeswoman said records confirm Kelley received a bad conduct discharge after being court-martialed in 2012 for assaulting his spouse and child.



Law enforcement officers gather in front of the First Baptist Church after a fatal shooting on Nov. 5th, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas.


Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is suggesting there may have been a connection between the gunman who shot and killed 26 people in a South Texas community and the Baptist church where the slayings happened.

Abbott tells 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 that “it’s very important that law enforcement have the ability … to tie the loose ends of this investigation up.”

He called the man, identified by a U.S. official and one in law enforcement as Devin Kelley, “a very deranged individual.”

Matt Largey | KUT
Vigil in Sutherland Springs, Texas, for victims of the church mass shooting that happened earlier on No.v. 5th, 2017



Authorities say a gunman armed with an assault rifle opened fire inside a small South Texas church, killing 26 people who ranged in age from 5 to 72.

The mass shooting occurred Sunday morning at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, about 30 miles southeast of San Antonio. About 20 others were wounded in the attack.

Two officials who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity identified the gunman as Devin Kelley. An Air Force spokeswoman said records confirm Kelley received a bad conduct discharge after being court-martialed in 2012 for assaulting his spouse and child.

Wilson County Sheriff Joe D. Tackitt Jr. described the scene inside the church as “terrible.”

Investigators have not yet determined a motive for the attack.

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