By Joanne Kim
More than 26 churchgoers were killed, and 20 were injured in a shooting on Monday, Nov. 6, at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. The youngest victim was only 18 months old, according to CBS.
The shooter was identified as 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley, a white male with a criminal record. Kelley had been charged and convicted twice for assaulting his ex-wife and stepson, for which he was court-martialed and discharged with bad conduct from the U.S. Air Force. Kelley served 12 months of confinement before his release in 2014, according to The Washington Post.
Federal law should have prevented Kelley as a convicted domestic abuser from purchasing or possessing firearms, according to The Washington Post.
Yet federal authorities were not aware of his criminal history since the Air Force did not report his prior charges, according to CBS.
The Air Force launched an internal review to find out why Kelley’s criminal record was not correctly stated, The Washington Post reported.
The motivation behind the shooting is unclear. Authorities have ruled out race or religious beliefs as motivators, according to Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Director Freeman Martin.
Authorities noted at the time of the shooting, the gunman was having issues with his relatives that worship at the church, CBS reported.
Kelley also sent “threatening texts” to his mother-in-law who was not at church when the shootings started, according to The Washington Post.
The Ruger AR-556 rifle used in the shooting was purchased from an Academy Sports & Outdoors outlet in San Antonio, Texas, according to National Review.
The incident ended when armed civilians tried to distract Kelley as he left the church, CBS reported. It is not certain whether Kelley was wounded by the resulting car crash or a civilian.
An Air Force couple, Robert and Karen Marshall, was in the process of trying out different churches when they went to the First Baptist Church the day of the shooting, according to CBS. Their son, Scott, and daughter-in-law, Karen, were also visiting the church for the first time. The grandmother of Kelley’s wife, Lula White, was also killed in the shooting.
Kelley suffered three gunshot wounds after the shooting. Kelley was shot twice by a citizen and once by himself, according to Texas law enforcement authorities.
“While the details of this horrific act are still under investigation, Cecilia and I want to send our sincerest thoughts and prayers to all those who have been affected by this evil act,” said Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, according to KSAT.