Atheist Church Shooter Threatened Mother-in-Law, Received Bad Conduct Discharge

Atheist Church Shooter Threatened Mother-in-Law, Received Bad Conduct Discharge

CBN News is learning more about the gunman who opened fire inside First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas Sunday, killing 26 people and wounding 20 more in the deadliest church shooting in U.S. history.

Four of the victims are in serious condition and 10 are in critical condition. The youngest victim was just 18-months-old.

Authorities say Devin Patrick Kelley of New Braunfels, Texas was dressed in black combat gear with a ballistic vest, was wearing a black mask with a skull on it, and was carrying a Ruger AR assault-type rifle during the attack.

Kelley, 26, lived in a suburb of San Antonio, and state and federal authorities say he doesn’t appear to be linked to any organized terrorist groups. In fact, clues about his motive may point toward a possible domestic dispute and anti-Christian beliefs.

READ: Lean on His Understanding’: Sutherland Springs Pastor’s Last Message to Congregation Before Shooting

Wilson County Sheriff Joe D. Tackitt, Jr. revealed Monday morning that Kelley’s former in-laws attended church services there “from time to time.” But Tackitt told CNN that the former in-laws weren’t in attendance Sunday when the shooting occurred.

Officials say Kelley had sent threatening texts to his mother-in-law.

And CBN News National Security Correspondent Erik Rosales says Kelley was apparently an atheist who was combative against Christians.

Kelley had also received a bad conduct discharge from the Air Force for assaulting his wife and child, according to an Air Force spokeswoman.

He served 12 months’ confinement after a 2012 court-martial. He then received a bad conduct discharge and a reduction in rank. In many instances of dishonorable discharge, the individual is not allowed to own guns.

And law enforcement officials confirm Kelley did not have a permit for a firearm, but he had purchased four guns. Two of the guns were bought in Colorado, and the other two were bought in Texas.

READ: Charisma’s Steve Strang On Texas Church Shooting: ‘We’re In a Spiritual War’

Sunday morning, authorities say Kelley first pulled his SUV into a gas station located across the street from the church building, then headed toward the church. 

When he exited the vehicle, he began firing his weapon at the building even before he entered the building where an 11:00 a.m. service had just started.

Kelley then fired on the churchgoers. 

“The second we knew what was going on, we just ran here to help as much as we could,” said Sutherland Springs resident Kevin Jordan.

After murdering 26 people, Kelley left the building where he was confronted by a neighbor with a rifle, and the two exchanged gunfire.

As Kelley dropped his weapon and jumped into his SUV and fled the scene, that neighbor stopped a driver named Johnnie Langendorff who was driving by, and together they pursued Kelley in Langendorff’s vehicle. 

“It was a pretty hot pursuit. Very fast but it ended quickly which was good,” Langendorff said. 

Kelley lost control of his vehicle and crashed on a road located on the county line between Wilson and Guadalupe counties. Law enforcement officials found him dead inside the vehicle with a gunshot wound. They also found several other weapons in the SUV.

At a press conference held Sunday night, Texas Governor Greg Abbott condemned the senseless violence and comforted the families in mourning. 

“There are so many families that have lost family members: fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters. The tragedy, of course, is worse in that it occurred in a church, a place of worship, where these people were innocently gunned down,” Abbott said. 

On the first day of his Asian trip, President Trump spoke to the nation calling the attack “an act of evil.”

And in south Texas, the small community is in mourning. 

“Just thinking about my own kids. It could have been us. So it does hit you hard,” said one resident. 

Among the dead was 14-year-old Annabelle Rene Pomeroy. Her father is the church’s pastor.  He was out of town at the time of the incident. 

He says he wants the world to know his daughter was one very beautiful, special child. 

Others stood firm in their faith despite the shocking events that jarred their tight-knit community. 

“If there is anybody who died here, we know that they are in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ right now,” Pastor Paul Buford of the River Oaks Church in Sutherland Springs had said right after the shooting.

As for Kelley, investigators are still trying to find out why he carried out this attack. 

 

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