November 6, 2017 - Devin Patrick Kelley, a former U.S. airman, has been identified as the shooter in the Texas church mass shooting on November 5, 2017. Local authorities state that he was denied a license to carry a firearm in the state. However, a loophole in the state's system allowed him to clear a background check required to purchase the Ruger AR-556 he used during the massacre on Sunday morning.
Recent reports say 26 people were killed during the shooting and at least 20 more were injured. Kelley allegedly opened fire before even entering the worship center, and proceeded to shoot among the patrons without discrimination. According to CNN, the youngest victim was 17 months old.
The U.S. Air Force stated today that it failed to report information to the National Criminal Information Center, a database utilized during background checks for firearm purchases, about a past crime committed by Kelley. In 2012, Kelley was convicted of two counts of domestic assault against his wife and stepson in general-martial court, says U.S. News and World Report. These convictions should have made him unable to pass the background check required to purchase a gun.
Kelly reportedly sent threatening texts to his mother-in-law leading up to the shooting. Authorities believe he meant to attack her, but she was not in attendance at the Sunday service when he opened fire. His grandmother-in-law, who volunteered at the church often, was one of the victims.
Witnesses first noticed Kelley at a gas station across the street from the church acting oddly at around 12:20 ET, according to CNN. It is unclear whether he was wearing his mask at the station, but he was dressed in all black and wearing a ballistic vest. After the shooting inside the church, Kelley exited the building and was approached by an armed local resident, who shot Kelley. An eyewitness stated that Kelley then dropped his rifle and fled the scene in a Ford Explorer, and the witness and armed resident gave chase and called authorities. The Explorer lost control and wrecked in a ditch, but he never exited the vehicle.
Authorities found Kelley to be unresponsive and suffering from three bullet wounds at the scene. Multiple weapons were also found in his vehicle. Investigators believe the fatal gunshot was a self-inflicted one to the head based on evidence found at the scene. Kelley reportedly also called his father after being shot in the leg and torso by the resident and told him he didn’t think he would make it before shooting himself.
This marks the largest Texas mass shooting to date, says CNN.