SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas (KXAN) — Law enforcement officials said the shooter was white, in his 20s and wore all-black, “tactical-type gear” and used an assault rifle. On Monday, the Department of Public Safety identified the gunman in a deadly church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, as 26-year-old Devin Kelley.
Martin confirmed the suspect was wearing a bulletproof vest and had a Ruger AR assault-type rifle.
Public records show Kelley’s last address was in New Braunfels, and that his wife’s family lived in Sutherland Springs. A KXAN News crew saw law enforcement at his listed address on Farm to Market 2722 near New Braunfels Sunday evening.
Comal County records show two traffic violations — one for not stopping at a stop sign, and another for driving 52 miles per hour in a 35 mile per hour zone — both occurred in 2008. Another address listed an Air Force base in New Mexico from 2011 to 2012.
Bad Conduct Discharge
Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek confirmed that Kelley was previously a member of the Air Force and served in Logistics Readiness at Holloman AFB in New Mexico from 2010 until he was discharged. Stefanek says he was court-martialed in 2012 for two counts of assault — assault on his spouse and assault on their child. Kelley received a Bad Conduct Discharge and 12 months in confinement.
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.”
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,” Martin said.
The AP reports the Air Force didn’t submit Texas church shooter’s criminal history to FBI, as required by Pentagon rules.
Education and Work History
A spokesperson for New Braunfels ISD confirms Kelley graduated from New Braunfels High School in 2009.
As a high school student, Kelley received grades ranging mostly from low B to C, according to transcripts and disciplinary records obtained from NBISD.
Kelley was suspended seven times in high school, including twice in 2009. He was suspended for infractions including horseplay, drug use or possession, insubordination, profane gestures or language, and making dishonest or false record. He was also disciplined for skipping class, according to the school records.
Kelley had ADHD, Irlen Syndrome and asthma, according to the records. Irlen Syndrome is a disorder that makes it difficult for people to visually process light and information.
“This senseless act of violence is something that is hard to understand and has definitely shaken our community. We grieve with those that suffered a loss and offer our deepest condolences,” New Braunfels ISD said in a statement.
The First Baptist Church of Kingsville, Texas, posted on its Facebook page that Kelley had volunteered for one night as a helper at the church’s Vacation Bible School in 2014. It says he was not a member and didn’t serve in any other way. “Our congregation would like to offer our prayers and deepest condolences to the Sutherland Springs community mourning the loss of their loved ones,” the post stated.
Schlitterbahn confirms Kelley worked at the New Braunfels location for five-and-a-half weeks this summer as a seasonal unarmed night security guard. He was fired in July “because he wasn’t a good fit,” said a Schlitterbahn spokesperson. The company says all their security guards must pass a criminal background check through the Texas Department of Public Safety.
KXAN spoke to nearly a dozen neighbors surrounding the property—no one had ever seen who lived there. They told KXAN that’s why people move out to that part of Comal County, for seclusion.
However, neighbor after neighbor said they’ve heard volleys of gunshots coming from the property for the past few years. It is legal to shoot on a property of this size (10 to 12 acres). Neighbors also describe hearing large explosions every few weeks.
The Albers have lived in the area for 10 years. They tell KXAN the last few nights they’ve heard more gunshots than normal.
“It honestly feels like a war zone sometimes. One time we could hear the bullets whizzing by our house. And sometimes we hear loud explosions maybe from targets or something like that,” said Ryan Albers.