Police: Texas church shooter committed suicide

Gunman apparently carried out church massacre due to 'domestic dispute' with mother-in-law, targeted in-laws at church.

David Rosenberg , | updated: 08:17

 Devin Patrick Kelley Texas shooter
Devin Patrick Kelley Texas shooter

The 26-year-old Texas man who gunned down a 50-member church congregation during Sunday services this weekend committed suicide after attempting to flee armed locals following the shooting, investigators said Monday.

The shooter, Devin Patrick Kelley, was a discharged former Air Force serviceman who had been court martialed in 2012 for assault and aggravated assault on his then-wife and his infant step-son. Five other charges that included multiple incidents in which he allegedly aimed either a loaded or unloaded firearm at his wife were withdrawn as part of the plea deal.

Despite his history of domestic violence, Kelley’s criminal record was not entered into the National Instant Criminal Background Check (NCIC) system as required by law, thus enabling him to purchase the Ruger AR-556 rifle he used in the shooting and two handguns later found in his vehicle.

Kelley entered the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs at approximately 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, half an hour after Sunday church services began, and opened fire on congregants, hitting nearly all of the roughly 50 people present at the time. Twenty-six people were killed in the shooting, with some 20 more wounded.

Investigators say it now appears that Kelley, who was found dead in a crashed vehicle minutes after the shooting, committed suicide after being wounded by armed locals who pursued him following the massacre.

According to local police, after Kelley exited the church following the massacre, two armed locals, one of whom has been identified as Johnnie Langendorff, opened fire on Kelley and pursued him on a high-speed chase, the Associated Press reported.

“He jumped in my truck and said, ‘He just shot up the church. We need to go get him.’ And I said ‘Let’s go,’” Langendorff said.

Kelley was shot by his pursuers, and eventually crashed his vehicle. Kelley then contacted his father, telling him that he had been wounded and was going to die, police said.

“[Kelley] notified his father that he had been shot and didn’t think he was going to make it.”

Police found Kelley dead with three gunshot wounds. Two of the wounds – one in the leg, and one in the torso - were apparently inflicted by Kelley’s pursuers. After crashing, investigators say Kelley shot himself in the head, resulting in the third and fatal wound found on his body.

While police said Kelley’s motives were still unclear, “threatening” text-messages he sent before the attack suggested it was likely tied to a “domestic” dispute.

“We know he expressed anger toward his mother-in-law,” said Freeman Martin from the Texas Department of Safety.

Authorities noted that Kelley’s in-laws often attended services at the church, though they were not present at the time of the shooting.

Friends and acquaintances say Kelly “preached” atheism and was a social outcast, the Daily Mail reported.

"He was the first atheist I met. He went Air Force after high school, got discharged but I don't know why," said Patrick Boyce, who attended high school with Kelley.

"I was just shocked [to hear the news]. Still haven’t quite processed how he could have done that," Boyce added.