A “domestic situation” may have played a role in the Texas Church shooting that killed 26 people and injured 20 more, authorities said.
The mother-in-law of the suspected gunman, 26-year-old David Kelley, attended the church in the rural town of Sutherland Springs, Freeman Martin, regional director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said in a news conference Monday morning. Kelley had allegedly sent his mother-in-law threatening texts, Martin said, declining to disclose more details about the domestic situation.
In 2012, Kelley was court martialed on charges of assault on his wife and child, ABC News reported. He was still able to purchase the assault rifle used in the shootings – and others – despite a law restricting guns from people convicted of domestic violence, according to ABC News.
Kelley was denied a license to carry in the state of Texas. He did have an unarmed private security, which would allow him to provide security at events such as concerts, Martin said.
Of the 26 people who died, 23 died inside the church, two died outside the church, and one person died in the hospital, Martin said. Of the injured, six are either in stable condition or have been released, while four remain in serious condition and 10 remain in critical condition, leaving the possibility that the death toll may rise, Martin said.
The ages of the deceased victims ranged in age from 18 months to 77 years, Martin said. The ages of the wounded ranged from 5 to 73 years old, he said.
The shooting was not racially or religiously motivated, Martin said.
While Kelley’s official cause of death will be determined during an autopsy, evidence at the scene may indicate that he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after “two Good Samaritans neutralized” him before law enforcement arrived, Martin said.
A resident who lives across the street armed himself with an AR assault rifle and engaged the shooter, causing him to drop his own assault rifle, Kelley said. That “Texas hero” then flagged down another man, and the two pursued Kelley.
During the pursuit, Kelley used his cell phone to call his father and notify him that “he had been shot” and that he “didn’t think he was going to make it.”
One rifle and two handguns were recovered from the scene, said ATF Special Agent-in-Charge Fred Milanowski, who confirmed that Kelley had purchased all three firearms.
Kelley had bought four firearms – one every year since he was discharged from the Air Force in 2014, said FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Christopher Combs. Two guns were purchased in Colorado, and two were purchased in Texas, Combs said.
Investigators are looking into surveillance video taken from inside the church for more clues into the shooting. Officials did not discuss what the video contained, but said that Kelley “spent some length of time” inside the church, moving “freely.”
How to Help:
There are two ways in which everyone can help the victims and their families of the church shooting, said Wilson County District Attorney Audrey Louis.
1. Prayers for families and their loved ones
2. Help families financially by donating to two accounts set up by local banks:
— Sutherland Springs Community Association
— Wells Fargo
“We are very grateful for this country and the tremendous outpouring of support for these families,” Louis said.