Mass Shooting In Small Texas Town Leaves 26 Dead and 20 more Wounded

K. Gerard Thomas
 
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS. Texas – A gunman wearing black tactical –style-clothing and gear walked into a First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs armed with an AR- 556 assault rifle opened fire on the congregants killing 26 people.   
 
According to the associated press ,Once the shooting started Sunday at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, a town of about 400 people, there was likely “no way” for congregants to escape, said Wilson County Sheriff Joe D. Tackitt Jr. Officials said about 20 others were wounded.” 
 
It was confirmed by law enforcement that the suspect was Devin Patrick Kelley, 26. Who lived in New Braunfels, which is about 35 miles north of the Sutherland Springs church.  
 
Investigations into his background showed no connections to any terrorist organization domestic or foreign; however, there was a social media posting by Kelley that showed an AR-556 semi-automatic rifle.   
 
Kelley had a troubled past he joined the Air Force in 2010, but he received a bad conduct discharge from the Air Force for assaulting his wife and child, he was later sentenced to 12 months in Military confinement.
 
  Kelley was court-martialed while serving as a Logistics Readiness Tech at Hollman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010-2014.   
 
According to AP  Kelley was described only as a white man in his 20s who was wearing black tactical gear and a ballistic vest.  
 
Good Guy with a Gun 
 
The shooting began when the suspect started firing his rifle at the church as he crossed the street according to Freeman Martin, the director of the Texas Department of Safety. The sound of rapid gunfire alerted residents in the area and one of the residents who “grabbed his rifle and engaged the suspect who fled the scene. 
 
Another citizen Johnnie Langendorff was driving past the church and witnessed the incident as it was happening, he was flagged down by the resident who was trying to fend off the assault by shooting at the suspect he asked Langendorff to help in following in the direction of the gunman, who was driving away.
 
Langendorff said the gunman eventually lost control of his vehicle and crashed. He said the other man walked up to the car with his gun drawn and the suspect did not move. He stayed there for at least five minutes until police arrived.  
 
The suspect was found dead in his vehicle at the county line.  Federal agents, including ATF investigators and the FBI’s evidence collection team, swarmed the small rural community of just about 400 hundred residents.  
 
Several weapons were found in the vehicle law enforcement sources are unclear if the attacker died of a self-inflicted wound or if he was shot by the resident who confronted him. 
 
Motive for Murder
 
The massacre appeared to stem from a domestic situation and was not religiously motivated, Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Director Freeman Martin said. 
 
Kelley was reported to have sent threatening text messages to his mother-in-law before the attack he was involved in a domestic violence case at least twice in the last five years.   
 
In 2014, sheriff’s deputies went to his home to investigate a domestic violence complaint involving him and his then-girlfriend. People in the house said there was no problem, and no arrests were made. 
 
The Signs Were There 
 
The Air Force said that it failed to record the Texas church shooter’s domestic violence conviction in a federal database that would have kept him from buying a gun.
 
His conviction prevented him from buying or possessing firearms, but it appears Kelley’s domestic violence offense was never entered into the national database that gun sellers use to check the criminal history of potential buyers.
 
According to an El Paso police report five months before his sentencing, Kelley escaped from Peak Behavioral Health Services in the state, where he had been placed for a “mental disorder,” 
 
The deadliest mass shooting in state history claimed multiple members of some families, with the dead ranging from 18 months to 77 years old, half of the church's parishioners were murdered of the victims 12 to 14 were children. 

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