The gunman who murdered 26 people in a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, TX, was sending threatening texts to his mother-in-law, who attended the house of worship, officials said at a late-morning presser. Authorities now are calling the worst mass shooting in the state’s history the result of a “domestic situation.” They declined to elaborate, saying the situation still is being “vetted.”
At least 12 of the victims are children, and the youngest was 18 months old; the oldest was 77. Eight of the dead were members of one family, authorities said at the somber presser.
Of the 20 people who were wounded in the Sunday morning attack, six are in stable condition or have been released, four are in serious condition and 10 remain in critical condition.
The gunman had purchased four guns over the last few years — two in Colorado, two in Texas.
Among the multitude of officials speaking at the presser, one commended the two “good Samaritans” who “neutralized” the shooter for law enforcement. A local resident who lives across the street from the church grabbed his own rifle and engaged the shooter in gunfire, then pursued him with another local resident. During the brief chase, the shooter used his phone to text his father, officials said, saying he was wounded and didn’t expect to survive. He subsequently shot himself, authorities confirmed, though they said they would wait for results of the autopsy performed this morning to officially declare cause of death as self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The shooter did not have a license to carry weapons but did pass background checks to purchase his guns, as well as obtain a private security license which would have enabled him to work as a private security guard.
Earlier in the day, morning TV news programs reported Devin Patrick Kelley was not eligible to purchase the assault rifle he used to gun down churchgoers, after having been court-martialed by the Air Force in 2012. He served a year in prison and received a bad conduct discharge in 2014 for assault on his spouse and their child, an Air Force rep said.
That should have disqualified him from buying a gun, morning news pundits said, being the military equivalent of a felony. The gunman bought that particular weapon last year at a gun store in the San Antonio area, according to local authorities updating the press.