Killer Was at Church Festival 5 Days Before Shooting

Devin Kelley's mother-in-law was happy to see him
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 8, 2017 6:03 AM CST
Killer Was at Church Festival 5 Days Before Shooting
Devin Kelley   (Texas Department of Public Safety via AP)

Five days before killing 26 people inside the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Devin Patrick Kelley rubbed elbows with the congregation at the church's annual fall festival. Attendees were surprised to see him with his children at the event—which included a bouncy house and petting zoo—since he was feuding with his mother-in-law from his most recent marriage in 2014. Michelle Shields, who attended the church, was estranged from her daughter, Danielle Shields, who worked there, reports the Houston Chronicle. But "they thought, 'oh this is good. This is progress,'" says a friend of the mother-in-law, adding that Michelle Shields was particularly pleased to see Kelley with her grandchildren.

Shortly after 11am Sunday, however, Kelley appeared on a mission to "take care of the mother-in-law," a commander of the Texas Department of Public Safety tells NBC News, when he emptied 15 30-round magazines inside First Baptist Church. Shields was not inside, but a witness says Kelley yelled, "Everybody die [expletive]," per KSAT. Kelley's troubled past has emerged in the aftermath: He tried to sneak guns onto Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, made death threats against superiors, and escaped a psychiatric hospital after assaulting his then-wife and infant son. He was also accused of rape in 2013, though the investigation halted when Kelley moved out of state; he pleaded guilty to animal cruelty in 2014, per BuzzFeed and CNN. (More Devin Kelley stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.