Texas church shooter had violent history Past included animal cruelty, domestic violence, stay in mental asylum
During his short but violent life, the Texas massacre gunman escaped from a mental facility, spent a year behind bars for domestic abuse, was cited for beating his dog and came under investigation for sexual assault — yet still managed to slip between the cracks.
The latest episode in his troubled past emerged last week, when the Comal County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Devin Patrick Kelley “was discovered to have been involved in an alleged Sexual Assault” in 2013.
“The alleged sexual assault investigation stalled sometime in October 2013 for reasons yet to be determined,” said the sheriff’s office statement. “Additionally, a call for service was located for a disturbance in February 2014 at the suspect’s residence. The call resulted in no offense report being generated.”
The news came the same day as revelations that the now-deceased Kelly escaped five years ago from a mental health facility, where he was found suffering from “mental disorders” after attempting to smuggle weapons onto Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.
An El Paso County Police Department incident report obtained by Houston Channel 2 said that Kelley was picked up by officers on June 13, 2012, after being reported missing or escaping from Peak Behavior Health Services in Santa Teresa, New Mexico.
Officers were told that Kelley “suffered from mental disorders and had plans to run from Peak Behavior Health Services to the listed address of occurrence and take a bus out of state,” according to the report.
Kelley, then a 21-year-old airman first class, was described as “a danger to himself and others as he had already been caught sneaking fire arms onto [Hollomon] Airforce base,” said the report.
Police were also advised that Kelley “was attempting to carry out death threats that [he] had made on his military chain of command” and that he was “facing military criminal charges.”
The last line of the report says that the information was submitted to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, which runs background checks for firearms purchases.
Authorities said the 26-year-old Kelley was nowhere to be found in the FBI database, even though he had a domestic violence conviction, which should have precluded him from being able to purchase firearms.
Instead, according to Fred Milanowski, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms special agent in charge, he was able to buy the four guns found at the scene, including the Ruger AR-556 used in the rampage, as well as pass background checks at Academy Sports & Outdoors stores in San Antonio.
During the rampage, the shooter emptied 15 magazine rounds, killing 26 people and wounding 20 during Sunday services at the small First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
The Air Force announced that it would conduct a “comprehensive review” into why Hollomon officials failed to report Kelley’s conviction to the FBI.
Kelley pleaded guilty in November 2012 to domestic assault on his then-wife and stepson, serving a 12-month sentence before being kicked out of the Air Force on a bad-conduct discharge.
A 2014 court-martial document posted by Nation One News said that he admitted to striking his stepson “on the head and body with a force likely to produce death or grievous bodily harm” on several occasions between April and June 2011.
He also pleaded guilty to hitting, choking, kicking and pulling the hair of his wife. The document said that he pleaded not guilty to pointing a loaded firearm at his wife, a charge that was withdrawn and dismissed.
In 2014 he was cited for misdemeanor cruelty to animals after repeatedly punching and dragging his dog at a trailer park in Colorado Springs, where he lived before moving to New Braunfels, Texas.
He was ordered to pay $368 in restitution and received a deferred probationary sentence, which was dismissed in 2016 after he completed it.
Prior to his killing spree at a Sutherland Springs, Texas, church, Devin Patrick Kelley had been in trouble with the law for spousal and child abuse as well as animal cruelty.