Texas Church Shooter's Actions Thought to Be Linked to Domestic Situation

The mass shooting that killed 26 and injured 20 others at a South Texas church Sunday morning wasn't religiously or racially motivated, authorities said at a Monday morning news conference, noting that there was a "domestic situation" within the suspect's family, ABC News reports.

The rampage at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas left 26 dead and 20 injured. According to new information, the ages of the deceased range from 18 months to 77 years old. Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt said that when he arrived, almost everyone was covered in blood.

The alleged shooter, Devin Kelley, 26, is also dead. While authorities have not released an official motive, police said this morning that Kelley's mother-in-law attended the church and has received threatening text messages from Kelley in the past.

"The suspect's mother-in-law attended this church," Freeman Martin, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said during a news conference Monday morning. "We know that he had made threatening texts and we can't go into detail into that domestic situation that is continuing to be vetted and thoroughly investigated."

More: 8 Members of One Family Killed in Texas Church Shooting

"This was not racially motivated, it wasn't over religious beliefs, it was a domestic situation going on," Martin added.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday on Good Morning America that he doesn't think the shooting "was just a random act of violence."

The attack started around 11:20 a.m. Sunday morning after the suspect was spotted at a gas station in Sutherland Springs, the Department of Public Safety said. The suspect crossed the street in his vehicle, got out of his vehicle and began firing at the church.

The suspect then moved to the right side of the church and continued to fire, before going inside the church and shooting more, authorities said.

Tackitt said the gunman entered from the back of the church, fired all the way to the front of the church, and then fired on his way back out of the church. He had time to reload several times, Tackitt said.

"As he exited the church, a local resident grabbed his rifle and engaged that suspect," Martin said. "The suspect dropped his rifle — which was a Rueger AR assault-type rifle — and fled from the church."

It was then that the gunman engaged in a "firefight" with an armed bystander before fleeing in his vehicle. The gunman reportedly used a pistol during the exchange with the bystander.

Two good Samaritans pursued the gunman in a high-speed chase, authorities say. Johnnie Langendorff said he chased at speeds reaching 95 miles per hour when ten miles away from the church, the suspect lost control of his vehicle and crashed.

Kelley contacted his father from his cellphone during the chase to tell him that he had been shot, according to law enforcement. Kelley told his father that he "didn't think he was going to make it." He subsequently shot himself, though officials said they were not yet sure if that shot had caused his death.

Police say the suspect was found dead in his vehicle in Guadalupe County. Evidence suggests that he may have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said Monday morning. Authorities said multiple weapons were found inside his vehicle and that he had tactical gear and was wearing a ballistic vest.

Among the 20 injured, 10 are in critical condition. Four are in serious condition and six are in stable condition or have been released.

Kelley worked in the Air Force from 2010 to 2014 and worked in the logistics readiness department at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.


He was court-martialed in 2012 on charges of assault on his spouse and on their child. He received a bad conduct discharge, confinement for 12 months and a reduction of his military status.

About a week before the shooting, Kelley shared a photo of a semi-automatic rifle on Facebook, writing "She's a bad b---h." Former classmates told the Daily Mail that he wrote about atheism online.