Texas Shooter Targeted the Church Where His Second Wife's Family Worshipped, Killing 26 People Including Children and a Pregnant Mother
November 6, 2017
The slain victims ranged in age from 18 months to 77 years old.
The Texas church shooter had family connections to the church where he killed at least 26 on Sunday in what is now the worst mass shooting in the state's history.
At an afternoon press conference, police revealed that shooter Devin Patrick Kelley was in a domestic dispute with his mother-in-law, Michelle Shields, who attended the church.
Officials said he sent 'threatening texts' to his mother-in-law, but wouldn't go into further detail about their 'domestic situation'. The Shields family were not present during worship on Sunday when the massacre unfolded, but spoke to investigators after.
Earlier in the day, Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackett told reporters that Kelley and his wife Danielle were estranged. Marriage records show the couple tied the knot in Comal County, Texas on April 4, 2014, when Kelley was 23 and his bride was 19. As of Monday, Danielle's Facebook profile still listed her relationship status as 'married' and photos on the account show pictures of two young kids - a baby girl and an older boy.
It was previously reported that Kelley's wife was a former teacher at the school, and that her mother was a parishioner.
Kelley opened fire on the group of parishioners Sunday morning, killing 26 and injuring 20.
A Good Samaritan intervened, shooting Kelley as he left the church. Kelley then got into his car and fled, as the hero bystander and another man chased him in another car. Police say Kelley called his father as he was driving away from the church, telling him he was shot and didn't think he was going to make it.
The two men who pursued Kelley say he lost control of his car and crashed into a ditch. By the time police showed up on the scene, he was dead. The official cause of death is pending an autopsy, but officials believe he may have committed suicide through a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackett said on Monday that Devin Kelley's (bottom) in-laws attended the Texas church he attacked on Sunday. Tackett said Kelley and his wife Danielle (top) were estranged. Image Facebook.
Neighbor Mark Moravitz told ABC News that Kelley lived at his parents' home in New Braunfels with his wife. Moravitz said that he would sometimes hear gunshots coming for near the house late at night.
Records show Kelley was also married once before to a Tessa K Kelley, who he married in April 2011. Kelley and his other wife divorced a year later - the same year that he was court-martialed for domestic violence.
Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said Kelley was court-martialed on one count of assault on his spouse and another count of assault on their child. He was sentenced to 12 months' confinement, a reduction in rank and was discharged for bad conduct two years later.
Stefanek said Kelley served in Logistics Readiness at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010 until his discharge.
Kelley walked into the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, dressed in black, tactical gear with a ballistics belt and an assault rifle, and began shooting Sunday morning.
The attack only stopped when Kelley was confronted by local hero Stephen Willeford, 55, who shot him through a gap in his body armor as the gunman tried to leave the church. Kelley fled in his car, where he proceeded to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head.
At least 26 people were killed in the shooting, but the death toll is expected to climb, authorities say. Victims include a two-year-old girl and the 14-year-old adopted daughter of the pastor.
Eight members of one family, including a eight-months-pregnant mother and three of her children were killed. The Connally Memorial Medical Center said 'multiple' victims are being treated.
Last night, San Antonio police raided Kelley's home with K9 and bomb squad units, along with agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives unit and FBI.
Horrific details of the attack have started to emerge with police saying there was likely 'no way' for congregants to escape. Wilson County Sheriff Joe D. Tackitt Jr. said: 'He (Kelley) just walked down the center aisle, turned around and my understanding was shooting on his way back out. It's unbelievable to see children, men and women, laying there. Defenseless people.'
Danielle's mother Michelle Shields (above) was a parishioner at the church and was connected to the pastor's wife on social media. Image Facebbook.
Sunday school teacher Karla Holcolmbe and her husband Bryan died in the rampage, their family confirmed. Bryan had been standing in for Pastor Pomeroy. Image Facebook.
Crystal Holcombe, pictured center, the daughter-in-law of Bryan and Karla Holcombe, was among those killed, along with three of her five children, all pictured left, Emily (standing tallest), Megan and Greg. Her husband John (right) and their other two children, survived the massacre. Image Facebook.
Joann Ward was among the 26 people gunned down when Devin Patrick Kelley burst into the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs in Texas and opened fire. Image Facebook.
Five-year-old Ryland Ward was found clinging to life after being shot three times. He was discovered among the pews by his aunt after his mother and sisters were shot dead in front of him in the Texas church massacre.
Sisters six-year-old Brooke (top) and eight-year-old Emily Garza (pictured, bottom, sitting on the right, next to her sister Rihanna) were killed in the shooting according to her family. Nine-year-old Rihanna (sitting next to Emily) survived. Image Facebook.
Kelley was a US Air Force veteran and former Bible studies teacher but his Facebook page, which has been deleted by the FBI, reveals he had a worrying fascination with weaponry.
He'd recently shared a photo of an AR-15 style gun on Facebook with the caption: 'She's a bad b***h.'
A LinkedIn account which appears to be Kelley's states that he joined the US Air Force after graduating New Braunfels High School in 2009. The Pentagon confirmed he was an airman 'at one point,' but did not release further details.
He worked in logistics and supply in the Air Force until he was kicked out for assaulting his wife and their child. Kelley was court-martialled for two counts of assaulting his spouse and kid, and received 12 months 'confinement' and a dishonorable discharge in 2014, CBS reported.
Stephen Willeford, 55, (left) and Johnnie Langendorff (right) have been praised as heroes after they were able to stop Texas gunman Devin Kelley's rampage. Image Facebook.
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