Texas Shooter Escaped From Psychiatric Hospital in 2012
Devin Kelley also made death threats against his military superiors
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 7, 2017 4:29 PM CST
Devin Kelley   (Texas Department of Public Safety via AP)

(Newser) – Fives years before killing 26 people in a Texas church, Devin Kelley escaped from a psychiatric hospital after trying to sneak weapons onto his Air Force base and making death threats against his superiors, the New York Times reports. Kelley was sent to Peak Behavioral Health Services in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, in 2012 after he was charged with assaulting his wife and young stepson, who was left with a fractured skull. He would later plead guilty to those charges and spend a year in a Navy prison. According to KRPC, Xavier Alvarez, former director of military affairs at the psychiatric hospital, said in a police report at the time that Kelley "was a danger to himself and others."

Prior to hopping a fence to escape, Alvarez tells NBC News that Kelley was caught using the hospital's computers to order weapons and tactical gear, which he was having shipped to a PO Box. In the police report, he said Kelley "was attempting to carry out death threats" against "his military chain of command." Following his escape, Kelley was apprehended at a bus station in El Paso. Alvarez says he told the arresting officers he would go for their guns if he got the chance. "This kid—he was hollow," Alvarez says. "I could never reach him." Meanwhile, authorities are still trying to piece together a motivation for Sunday's shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, hampered by an inability to unlock Kelley's cellphone.

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