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UPDATE: Vice President Says Texas Church Gunman, Air Force At Fault In Tragedy

Authorities aimed to conclude the crime-scene investigation at the church by Wednesday evening


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

Vice President Mike Pence spoke at a news conference Wednesday afternoon outside the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, where the shootings happened.

6:30 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is blaming the Air Force bureaucracy in addition to the gunman for a massacre at a South Texas church that left more than two dozen dead.

Pence spoke at a news conference Wednesday afternoon outside the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, where the shootings happened.

He said the gunman lied on his background check application when buying the weapons. He also cited the man’s history of mental illness and bureaucratic failings within the Air Force for the tragedy.

Pence began his trip to Texas Wednesday by visiting Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio to meet with victims wounded in the shooting. Then he, his wife and Texas officials met with victims’ families, first-responders and two men who pursued the gunman.

Pence said President Donald Trump had authorized a full complement of federal resources to the investigation, including 100 on-site FBI agents.


5:45 p.m.

The owner of a Colorado gun shop says the gunman who killed more than two dozen people at a South Texas church bought two guns in his shop.

Jeff Lepp owns Specialty Sports and Supply in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He said Wednesday that Devin Patrick Kelley bought a pistol from his shop in 2014 and a revolver in 2015 after passing background checks. He said he couldn’t identify the specific guns for privacy reasons.

Lepp said the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives contacted him about the pistol Sunday night and he also told them about the revolver. He believes Kelley likely didn’t own the revolver anymore because investigators didn’t ask about it.

Authorities have previously said that Kelley purchased four guns from federally licensed dealers in Texas and Colorado over the last four years. Among them were the AR-15-style rifle used in the church shooting and handguns found in and near the shooting site.


5:30 p.m.

A town justice in upstate New York says a cousin is among the more than two dozen people killed in the shooting rampage at a Texas church, and another cousin who was visiting at the time was wounded.

Timothy Cox is a justice in the town of Olive in the Catskill Mountains. He told WNYT-TV in Albany that Margaret McKenzie, of Saratoga Springs, New York, was visiting their mutual cousin, Tara McNulty, in Sutherland Springs, Texas last weekend. That’s when a man opened fire on worshippers inside the First Baptist Church.

The 33-year-old McNulty, a bartender at the Aumont Saloon in nearby Seguin, was killed in the attack. Cox and her former employer says her two children were wounded, and Cox says McKenzie was also wounded.

The bar is hosting a benefit for McNulty’s family on Sunday.


5:25 p.m.

Eleven people remain hospitalized following the shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs that left more than two dozen worshippers dead.

A spokeswoman at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio said seven shooting victims remained at the hospital Wednesday, ranging from fair to critical condition.

Officials with University Health System in San Antonio still had four patients Wednesday, listed with conditions ranging from good to critical.


5:20 p.m.

A former friend of the Texas church shooter says he had asked her for sexual favors and prevented his first wife from communicating with her friends.

The friend, Kelsey Huckaby, tells KTBC-TV in Austin, Texas, that during high school Devin Patrick Kelley was “kind of controlling of his girlfriends.”

Huckaby says, Tessa, whom she had also been friends with, stopped talking to her. She says that after Tessa divorced Kelley that she said he had been abusing her and her baby and controlling with whom she communicated.

Huckaby says she lost contact with Kelley until he responded to a Facebook post she made in April asking for a place to stay for her and her boyfriend. She says Kelley offered to let them stay in a trailer on his property if she performed weekly “sexual favors” for him.


5 p.m.

A person familiar with the discussions says Apple contacted the FBI to offer technical advice after learning from a Texas news conference that the bureau was trying to access the church gunman’s cellphone.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the discussions.

Depending on the model of iPhone and what security features it had, FBI agents might have had a short window to use alternative methods to access its data.

For instance, if the iPhone used Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint sensing system, which is available in newer phone models, agents could have tried placing the dead gunman’s finger on the phone to unlock it. But that could only have worked in the 48 hours since the last time the phone was locked.


4:45 p.m.

A law enforcement official who has seen video from inside the Texas church says bullets splintered the walls and pews, several of which were overturned.

The church regularly video-recorded its services, and the officials says the footage investigators have seen shows several minutes of the attack as there was “no one to turn it off.” The official says it shows the gunman shooting some victims in the head.

The law enforcement official spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly on an ongoing investigation.

The official was also among those who went in the church after the shooting and said several of the pews were overturned, although it was unclear if that was from the attack or rescue efforts once paramedics arrived. Of the holes in the wall were large enough to see sunlight from the inside.


4:30 p.m.

Four women told the San Antonio Express-News that the suspect in the Texas church shooting either sexually assaulted or harassed them.

The newspaper identified the women only by their middle names at their request to remain anonymous and contacted family or friends to corroborate their stories, it reported ( ) Tuesday.

One woman told the newspaper that Devin Patrick Kelley had forced her into performing sexual acts in 2011, but she never filed a police report. She says Kelley became obsessive and she changed her phone number to get away from him.

A second woman told the newspaper that Kelley made lewd comments at her during her freshman year of high school at New Braunfels High School in 2008-09 and slapped her buttocks. A school district official says she has no way of confirming the claim or whether it was reported.

Two other women told the newspaper that they were harassed and threatened by Kelley on Facebook after one had posted about being unhappy that Donald Trump was elected president.


A man opened fire inside the church in the small South Texas community on Sunday, killing more than 20 and injuring others.

4:20 p.m.

District records show the Texas church gunman was increasingly a disciplinary problem during high school.

In fall 2006, Devin Patrick Kelley’s sophomore year, he was suspended then sent to an alternative school for two months after a drug-related incident. New Braunfels school district records didn’t go into any detail about that or other run-ins he had.

He was suspended twice as a junior and three times as a senior for reasons including “insubordination,” ”profane language/gestures” and “dishonest/false records.”

With each passing year at New Braunfels High School, his grades slipped as well, according to the records. A B-student overall as a freshman, he failed several classes by his senior year and ended up ranked 260 out of 393 students in his graduating class in 2009. He finished with a 2.3 grade-point average.

The records also listed ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, as one of his medical conditions.


2:30 p.m.

Pope Francis has sent a telegram to the archbishop of San Antonio, Texas, to express his condolences for the deadly shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs.

The telegram was sent Tuesday by the Vatican's secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who said the pope was "deeply grieved by news of the loss of life and grave injuries caused by the act of senseless violence."

The pontiff sent condolences to "the families of the victims and the wounded, to the members of the congregation and the entire local community."

Francis also offered prayers for mourners to "grant them the spiritual strength that triumphs over violence and hatred by the power of forgiveness, hope and reconciling love."

Twenty-six people were killed in Sunday's attack at the Texas church.


1:30 p.m.

The owner of a small Texas company that designs caskets is offering to provide a coffin to each of the families of the more than two-dozen people killed in last weekend’s church shooting.

Trey Ganem, owner of Trey Ganem Designs in Edna, personalizes caskets at a cost of about $3,500. He wants to provide a custom-made one to each family free of charge.

He says Sunday’s shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs was unfathomable because of the carnage brought to people who were worshipping.

Ganem’s offer comes as officials say they intend to provide about $6,500 to each family to help cover funeral expenses.

Wilson County District Attorney Audrey Louis said at a news conference Tuesday that the money will come from a state fund set aside for crime victims.

Authorities put the death count in Sunday’s shooting at 26, including the unborn baby of one of the slain women.


12:50 p.m.

A U.S. official says authorities have reviewed a Texas congregation’s video from inside the church showing a man shooting some victims — including children — in the head during morning worship.

The official’s account of the video Wednesday is consistent with what witnesses attending the service said about the shooter’s actions during the attack, which left at least two dozen people dead. The official wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The same official confirmed the cellphone that belonged to the attacker was an iPhone but that the FBI had not yet asked Apple for help obtaining data from the device.

On Tuesday, Christopher Combs, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Antonio division, said agents haven’t been able to access the data on Devin Patrick Kelley’s cellphone.


. A man opened fire inside the church in the small South Texas community on Sunday, killing more than 20 and injuring others.

11:40 a.m.

Authorities have released an official list of those killed in the shooting rampage at a Texas church.

Eight male victims and 17 female victims ranging in age from 1 to 77 are on the Texas Department of Public Safety list released Wednesday. The list also includes the unborn baby of Crystal Holcombe, identified on the list as Carlin Brite “Billy Bob” Holcombe, age 0 and gender unknown.

Eight of the victims slain Sunday at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs were children and teenagers ranging in age from 1 to 16 years old.

Authorities said one of the children died at a San Antonio-area hospital. The remaining victims all died at the scene.

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) released the names of the deceased victims:

Name Age Sex
1 Robert Scott Marshall 56 M
2 Karen Sue Marshall 56 F
3 Keith Allen Braden 62 M
4 Tara E. McNulty 33 F
5 Annabelle Renae Pomeroy 14 F
6 Peggy Lynn Warden 56 F
7 Dennis Neil Johnson, Sr. 77 M
8 Sara Johns Johnson 68 F
9 Lula Woicinski White 71 F
10 Joann Lookingbill Ward 30 F
11 Brooke Bryanne Ward 5 F
12 Robert Michael Corrigan 51 M
13 Shani Louise Corrigan 51 F
14 Therese Sagan Rodriguez 66 F
15 Ricardo Cardona Rodriguez 64 M
16 Haley Krueger 16 F
17 Emily Garcia (died at the hospital) 7 F
18 Emily Rose Hill 11 F
19 Gregory Lynn Hill 13 M
20 Megan Gail Hill 9 F
21 Marc Daniel Holcombe 36 M
22 Noah Holcombe 1 F
23 Karla Plain Holcombe 58 F
24 John Bryan Holcombe 60 M
25 Crystal Marie Holcombe (pregnant*) 36 F
26 *Carlin Brite “Billy Bob” Holcombe (unborn) 0 Unknown

No additional details regarding the victims are available at this time.


10:36 a.m.

The Texas church massacre is providing a familiar frustration for law enforcement: FBI agents are unable to unlock the gunman’s encrypted cellphone to learn what evidence it might hold.

But while heart-wrenching details of the rampage that left more than two dozen people dead might revive the debate over the balance of digital privacy rights and national security, it’s not likely to prompt change anytime soon.

Congress has not shown a strong appetite for legislation that would force technology companies to help the government break into encrypted phones and computers. And the fiery public debate surrounding the FBI’s legal fight with Apple Inc. has largely faded since federal authorities announced they were able to access a locked phone in a terror case without the help of the technology giant.

As a candidate, Donald Trump called on Americans to boycott Apple unless it helped the FBI hack into the phone, but he hasn’t been as vocal as president.

Texas shooter Devin Patrick Kelley

Still, the issue re-emerged Tuesday, when Christopher Combs, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Antonio division, said agents had been unable to get into the cell phone belonging to Devin Patrick Kelley, who slaughtered much of the congregation in the middle of a Sunday service.

“It highlights an issue you’ve all heard about before. With the advance of the technology and the phones and the encryption, law enforcement is increasingly not able to get into these phones,” Combs told reporters. He did not provide further details other than saying the device was being flown to an FBI lab for analysis. “We’re working very hard to get into that phone, and that will continue until we find an answer,” Combs added.


10:10 a.m.

The gunman who killed more than two dozen at a small-town Texas church briefly escaped from a mental health facility in New Mexico in 2012, police reports indicated.

The reports also noted that Devin Patrick Kelley was once caught trying to bring guns onto a military base and threatened superior officers there. Kelley was also named as a suspect in a 2013 sexual assault in New Braunfels, about 35 miles (55 kilometers) from the scene of Sunday’s church attack in Sutherland Springs.

The records that emerged Tuesday add up to at least three missed opportunities that might have offered law enforcement a way to stop Kelley from having access to guns long before he slaughtered much of the congregation in the middle of a service. Authorities said the death toll of 26 included the unborn baby of one of the women killed. Kelley died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after he was chased by bystanders and crashed his car.

The Air Force confirmed Tuesday that Kelley had been treated in the facility after he was placed under pretrial confinement stemming from a court-martial on charges that he assaulted his then-wife and hit her child hard enough to fracture the boy’s skull.

Involuntary commitment to a mental institution would have been grounds to deny him a weapon provided that records of his confinement were submitted to the federal database used to conduct background checks on people who try to purchase guns.

Kelley was also caught trying to bring guns onto Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico when he was stationed there, according to an El Paso, Texas, police report released Tuesday.

While in the military, Kelley, who was 21 at the time, made death threats against superior officers, according to the June 2012 report, which also mentioned the military charges. He was eventually sentenced to 12 months of confinement for the assault.

The Air Force acknowledged Monday that it did not enter Kelley’s criminal history into the federal database as required by military rules, another way he could have been denied a weapon.

Had Kelley been convicted of sexual assault, he would likely have been prevented from purchasing a gun because federal guidelines prohibit sales to anyone convicted of a felony punishable by more than one year in prison. The Comal County sheriff said he was reviewing whether his department mishandled the sexual assault investigation.

Authorities recovered a Ruger AR-556 rifle at the church and two handguns from the shooter’s vehicle. All three weapons were purchased by Kelley, said Fred Milanowski, the agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Houston.

The El Paso report notes that Kelley was committed to a mental health facility in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, but at some point escaped and was later found by police at a bus station in downtown El Paso in June 2012.

Deputies were called to Kelley’s home in New Braunfels in June 2013 about the rape case and investigated for three months, Comal County Sheriff Mark Reynolds said. But it appeared that they stopped investigating after they believed Kelley left Texas and moved to Colorado. Reynolds said the case was then listed as inactive.

The sheriff said he was trying to determine how deputies came to believe Kelley had moved and why they did not continue to pursue the case, either in Colorado or after Kelley returned to the area later. Deputies were called to the same house in February 2014 to investigate a domestic violence report involving Kelley and Danielle Shields, his girlfriend at the time, whom he married two months later.

“The last information that we have is the suspect moved to Colorado and then the investigation seems to have tapered off,” Reynolds said Tuesday. “That’s what we’re looking into.”

The district attorney for Comal County said in an interview that she became aware of the sexual assault case Monday before the records were released to The Associated Press and other media.

“That case was never presented to our office,” Jennifer Tharp said.

The records from Comal County also describe a burglary that Kelley’s father, Michael, reported on his property the day after the sexual assault report. Michael Kelley told an officer that someone had taken a laptop computer and hard drive belonging to his son from a barn he had converted into an apartment for Devin Kelley. But Kelley said his son was unavailable to talk to police because he had been in a traffic accident that morning.

None of the documents explains whether there was a connection between the sexual assault report and the burglary report.

Meanwhile at the First Baptist Church in tiny Sutherland Springs, investigators continued analyzing a gruesome crime scene and tried to gain access to the shooter’s cellphone, a longstanding challenge for the FBI in thousands of other cases.

Authorities aimed to conclude the crime-scene investigation at the church by Wednesday evening. Investigators have no reason to believe anyone conspired with Kelley, who acted alone, said Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Director Freeman Martin.

Martin repeated earlier statements that the shooting appeared to stem from a domestic dispute involving Kelley and his mother-in-law, who sometimes attended services at the church but was not present on Sunday.

“We don’t know what he was thinking or what was in his mind,” Martin said. “There was conflict. He was upset with the mother-in-law.”

The gunman’s phone was flown to an FBI lab for analysis, but agents have yet to access it, said Christopher Combs, who is in charge of the agency’s San Antonio division.

The inability to access the shooter’s phone highlights a longstanding frustration of the FBI. Director Christopher Wray said last month that in the first 11 months of the fiscal year, agents were unable to access the content inside more than 6,900 mobile devices, an issue he said stymies investigations.

The FBI and other law enforcement officials have long complained about being unable to unlock and recover evidence from cellphones and other devices seized from suspects even if authorities have a warrant. Technology companies have refused to help, insisting they must protect customers’ digital privacy.

The long-simmering debate was on display in 2016, when the Justice Department tried to force Apple to unlock an encrypted cellphone used by a gunman in an attack in San Bernardino, California. The department eventually relented after the FBI said it paid an unidentified vendor who provided a tool to unlock the phone and no longer needed Apple’s assistance, avoiding a court showdown.


12:20 a.m.

Police reports indicate the gunman who killed more than two dozen at a small-town Texas church briefly escaped from a mental health center in New Mexico in 2012.

The Air Force confirmed Tuesday that Devin Patrick Kelley had been treated in a facility after he was placed under pretrial confinement stemming from a court-martial on charges that he assaulted his then-wife and hit her child. The service acknowledged Monday that it didn’t enter Kelley’s criminal history into the federal database as required by military rules.

Also, a police report from El Paso says Kelley was caught trying to bring guns onto Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico when he was stationed there.

Authorities say the death toll of 26 from Sunday’s shooting includes the unborn baby of one of the women killed.


Merchant reported from Houston. Associated Press writers Robert Burns in Washington, John Mone in Sutherland Springs, Diana Heidgerd and Reese Dunklin in Dallas, Paul J. Weber in New Braunfels, and AP investigative researcher Randy Herschaft in New York contributed to this report.

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