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Gunman Sent 'Threatening Texts' to His Mother-in-Law

Massacre may have been triggered by 'domestic situation'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 6, 2017 11:44 AM CST
Updated Nov 6, 2017 1:24 PM CST
'Domestic Situation' May Have Led to Church Massacre
This undated photo provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety shows Devin Kelley.   (Texas Department of Public Safety via AP)

(Newser) – Sunday's mass shooting at a Texas church appears to have been set off by some kind of family fight. "We can tell you that there was a domestic situation going on within this family," said a Texas Department of Public Safety official, adding that 26-year-old Devin Kelley had sent his mother-in-law "threatening texts." Kelley's in-laws attended First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs but were not there on Sunday. Police didn't provide details about the family dispute but suggested that Kelley went to the church with his in-laws as targets. Other developments and details:

  • Half were kids: Of the 26 people killed, up to 14 were children, says Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt, per NBC News. The victims ranged in age from 18 months to 77 years. In addition to those killed, 20 people were wounded.
  • A survivor: One 5-year-old boy was shot five times but is out of surgery in a San Antonio hospital, reports the Daily Beast. Ryan Ward was at the church with his step-mother, who was killed.
  • Called his father: Police say that when Kelley left the church he exchanged gunfire with a citizen, then led the citizen and another on a high-speed chase. (Their story is here.) At some point in the pursuit, Kelley called his father to say he'd been shot and didn't expect to live, reports CBS News. Police think Kelley fatally shot himself—he also may have been shot by the citizen—but the details were still being sorted out.

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  • Legality of guns: Kelley had bought four guns since 2014, and the Austin American-Statesman reports that it's unclear whether he should have been allowed do so because of his "bad conduct discharge" from the military in 2014. Kelley had been court-martialed for assaulting his wife and child and sentenced to a year in military prison.
  • Rocky past: Kelley divorced his first wife (the women he was convicted of assaulting) and remarried another woman in 2014, reports the New York Times. He appears to have moved back to his parents' lavish home in New Braunfels this year, suggesting the second marriage had failed. Kelley also was charged with animal cruelty over the abuse of a dog.
  • Facebook fights: The Los Angeles Times reports that Kelley had been adding people from the Sutherland Springs area as Facebook friends recently for the apparent intent of picking fights with them. His profile photo was an AR-15-style semiautomatic.

  • Gun control: President Trump made a point to say the massacre was about mental illness, not guns, but former President Obama took a different tack. "May God also grant all of us the wisdom to ask what concrete steps we can take to reduce the violence and weaponry in our midst," he tweeted. Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut is among those calling for tougher laws, per USA Today, though Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton suggested on Fox that more concealed-carry laws are the way to go, reports HuffPost.
  • Nope: Myth-busting site Snopes.com digs into online rumors that the black-clad Kelley had an "antifa" flag. In a word: "False."
  • On video? The church had previously posted its Sunday services on YouTube, raising the possibility that the rampage had been recorded, notes the AP.
(Read more mass shootings stories.)

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