Church shooting suspect's mother-in-law attended services there

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas (KXAN) - What we know so far:

  • 26 people confirmed dead. Twenty-three people were found dead inside the church, two outside and one person died at the hospital. Deceased ages ran from 18-months-old to 77 years old.
  • 20 people were injured. Six are in stable condition or have been released from the hospital, four are in serious condition and 10 are still in critical condition. | Read more about the victims
  • Alleged shooter identified as Devin Kelley, 26, of New Braunfels
  • Shooting suspect was found dead inside a vehicle a few miles north of Sutherland Springs

Twenty people are recovering in various hospitals after a deadly church shooting Sunday morning in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Ten of the wounded are still in critical condition as of Monday morning. Not including the suspect, 26 people died.

The Texas Department of Public Safety identified the shooting suspect as Devin Kelley, 26, of New Braunfels Monday morning. The gunman was wearing a ballistic vest and had a Ruger AR assault-type rifle.

“I think nearly everyone had some type of injury,” said Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt. Between 12 and 14 children were hurt or killed, Tackitt said. They stick out to him most, and he’ll have a hard time getting the scene out of his head.

Authorities say 23 people were found dead inside the church, two were found dead outside the church and one person died at the hospital. The deceased victims’ ages range from 18-months-old to 77 years old.

“I guess it hasn’t really hit yet,” Tackitt said. “It will. They were good people.”


Tackitt said he knew several people in the First Baptist Church, but he did not know the gunman and doesn’t believe many people there knew him.

During Monday’s news conference, authorities said Kelley had a domestic situation with his family and that his mother-in-law attended the church. Recently she received threatening texts from him. Tackitt said Kelley’s in-laws had attended the church at some point, but were not locals. Kelley’s wife may have also attended the church a few times.

Tackitt confirmed that the visiting pastor was one of the victims. The church’s pastor was out of town with his wife when the shooting occurred but his 14-year-old daughter was one of those who died.

A man who lives across the street from the church heard the gunshots and he immediately grabbed his gun to confront the shooter. “He armed himself with an AR assault rifle and engaged the suspect. They engaged in gunfire here at the church,” DPS regional director Freeman Martin said.

Tackitt said the man who came forward doesn’t want to be called a hero — but the sheriff says he is one. The Good Samaritan then asked another individual for help to chase after the suspect, who had taken off his in his Ford Expedition but left behind his assault rifle.

Johnnie Langendorff was one of the men who chased after the suspect. Langendorff told KSAT in a live interview he saw two men exchanging gunfire in front of the church. When the shooter took off in his vehicle, the Good Samaritan came up to his car.

“The other gentlemen came and he said we needed to pursue him, that he just shot up the church, so that’s what I did,” explained Langendorff to KSAT. Langendorff says they were driving around 95 mph on FM 539 to catch up to the suspect.

During the chase, DPS says the suspect called his father to tell him he had been shot and that he didn’t think he was going to make it. “Subsequently, he shot himself,” said Martin. Authorities say he may have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, but he also was shot during the firefight with the Good Samaritan. An autopsy will determine his official cause of death.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said they recovered three firearms: the Ruger that the suspect dropped at the church and two additional handguns in his vehicle. All three firearms were purchased by Kelley. The agency says since 2014, Kelley has purchased four weapons total — one every year — two in Colorado and two in Texas. CNN reports he purchased a rifle in 2016 from an Academy Sports in San Antonio.

The suspect did not have a license to carry, but he did have a non-commissioned unarmed private security license, which is similar to what a security guard would have.

“There were no disqualifiers entered into the National Crime Information Center database that would preclude him from receiving a private security license,” Martin explained. “Private security background checks, including fingerprints and criminal history checks with the Texas Crime Information Center and National Crime Information Center databases were checked and he was clear.”

An Air Force spokeswoman confirmed Kelley was court-martialed in 2012 for two counts of assault and served 12 months in confinement. He was given a Bad Conduct Discharge.

Fred Milanowski with ATF said “in general” if a person received a dishonorable discharge (Kelley, however, had a Bad Conduct Discharge) from the military, they are not allowed to purchase a firearm. “We do not have all the documentation yet… to determine his exact discharge and to determine what his conviction was, we will not have a determination on if this individual was prohibited from purchasing firearms.”


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