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‘Domestic Situation' in Devin Patrick Kelley's Family Preceded Texas Church Massacre

Evidence at the scene indicated he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, after he was chased by two good Samaritans from the scene of the shooting

A 26-year-old man who had been sending his mother-in-law threatening text messages put on a ballistic vest and a black mask with a white skull face and killed 26 people with an assault rifle at her church in southern Texas Sunday, authorities said.

More details about Devin Patrick Kelley's life and death were revealed Monday as investigators continued to look into the massacre at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, where the small community outside San Antonio was reeling. The dead ranged from 18 months old to 77. Twenty other people were wounded, half of them still in critical condition.

The shooting is Texas' deadliest and the fifth deadliest in modern U.S. history.

Kelley had three gunshot wounds when it was over, officials said late Monday. He had been shot in the leg and torso by an armed citizen, and he had a self-inflicted head wound.

Authorities have suggested the shooting was related to domestic problems, and the FBI does not have a terrorism investigation open.

"There was a domestic situation going on within this family," said Freeman Martin of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Kelley's mother-in-law "had received threatening texts from him."

Earlier, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had said, "I don't think this was a randomly chosen location," though he did not give more details. He added that the gunman was "obviously deranged."

Kelley has a history of violence, breaking his infant stepson's skull in a 2012 incident that got him discharged from the Air Force.

Wilson County Joe Sheriff Tackitt said the gunman was estranged or divorced from his second wife, and that his in-laws attended the church but were not there at the time of the shooting: "They were not here yesterday to attend church, but they did come yesterday afternoon to speak to investigators."

All the bodies were removed from the church by Monday morning, Martin said.  Twelve to 14 of them were children, Tackitt said.

After the shooting, Kelley was chased by two good Samaritans, one of whom had wounded him in a shootout, and told his father in a phone call that he didn't think he'd survive.

"The suspect used his cellphone, notified his father that he had been shot and didn't think he was going to make it," Martin said.

Evidence at the scene indicated he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, but the official cause of his death was pending an autopsy.

It wasn't clear if Kelley had legally acquired the four guns he'd purchased since 2014, authorities said. He had faced court-martial and was discharged from the Air Force for allegedly assaulting his wife and child, according to an Air Force spokeswoman.

The spokeswoman, Ann Stefanek, said Sunday that Kelley was sentenced to 12 months' confinement after a 2012 court-martial. He ultimately received a bad conduct discharge and reduction in rank. She said Kelley served in Logistics Readiness at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010 until his discharge in 2014.

He was convicted of fracturing his infant stepson's skull and assaulting his wife in the same incident in 2012, according to retired Air Force Col. Don Christensen, who supervised prosecutors during the time of Kelley's court-martial.

"I don't know how old the child was, but he was a baby," Don Christensen told NBC News. Kelley and his wife later divorced.

He was also charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty in Colorado in 2014.

Kelley did not have a license to carry firearms, Martin said. He did have a permit to be an unarmed security guard.

A manager at the Summit Vacation Resort in New Braunfels, where Kelley lived, said he worked for the resort as security guard for the past month and a half.

Kelley "seemed like a nice guy" and didn't give her any problems, Claudia Varjabedian said. She said he worked unarmed on his shift as the day security guard at the riverside resort, which is near Kelley's apparent home, just outside San Antonio and about 35 miles from Sutherland Springs.

A U.S. official told The Associated Press that Kelley lived in a San Antonio suburb and that he doesn't appear to be linked to organized terrorist groups. The official said investigators are looking at social media posts Kelley may have made in the days before Sunday's attack, including one that appeared to show an AR-15 style semiautomatic weapon. The official requested anonymity because the person did not have authorization to speak publicly.

It is not immediately clear whether it was legal for Kelley to own weapons on a bad conduct discharge. But sporting goods retailer Academy Sports and Outdoors said in a statement that "based on information we received from law enforcement, we confirmed that the suspect purchased a firearm from one of our San Antonio locations in 2016."

The company did not specify what type of gun was purchased. It said it was cooperating with officials in the investigation.

An ATF official said two of his guns were purchased in Texas and two others in Colorado. A Ruger AR-556 rifle was recovered at the scene, along with two handguns found in his vehicle. 

The official, Fred Milanowski, said the ATF hadn't determined if his guns were purchased legally.

Local records of an August traffic ticket issued in New Braunfels, Texas, for expired registration and not having auto insurance give a birthdate that would make him 26 years old.

Kelley was a 2009 graduate of New Braunfels High School, according to a statement from the New Braunfels Independent School District. 

"We are deeply saddened to hear of the tragedy that took place earlier today in the community of Sutherland Springs," the district wrote in its statement. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those affected by this horrific event.

"We are shocked to hear that a graduate of our lone high school is allegedly responsible for this tragedy."

At the address listed online for Kelley in New Braunfels, two sheriff's vans were parked outside and police officers stood at the gate of a cattle fence surrounding the property. Law enforcement officials gathered at the property declined to comment on why they were there. Several messages left for his relatives went unreturned.

Neighbors said that they heard intense gunfire coming from the direction of the address listed for Kelley in recent days.

"It's really loud. At first I thought someone was blasting," said Ryan Albers, 16, who lives across the road. "It had to be coming from somewhere pretty close. It was definitely not just a shotgun or someone hunting. It was someone using automatic weapon fire."

A person matching Kelley's name and date of birth also registered in 2014 to vote in Colorado, with an address listed in Colorado Springs, home of the U.S. Air Force Academy. The Colorado Secretary of State's office lists his registration now as inactive.

According to Martin with the Texas Department of Public Safety, the gunman arrived at a Valero gas station near the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs at around 11:20 a.m. Sunday. 

He crossed the street to the church, left his vehicle and started firing a Ruger AR assault-type rifle at the church. Then he entered the church and fired.

As he left the church, the shooter met an unidentified area resident with his own rifle who pursued him. He was found dead in his vehicle near the border between Wilson and Guadalupe counties.

CORRECTION (Nov. 6, 2017, 12:51 p.m. ET): An earlier version of this story misspelled Sheriff Joe Tackitt's name.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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