Described by those who met him as a disturbing man with a failed personal life, ex-corporal Devin Patrick Kelley, author of the worst mass shooting in Texas, was released from the US Air Force for domestic violence.
The 26-year-old White man committed suicide Sunday after killing 26 people in a church in Sutherland Springs, a small town in the San Antonio area. Most of his victims were elderly parishioners of all ages. Mr. Kelley died wearing black from head to toe.
Various photographs of his face flooded the media and social networks, leaving people with more questions than answers.
The shooter was living in New Braunfels, a town about 30 miles from Sutherland Springs where, for reasons still unclear, he chose to commit his carnage.
Devin Patrick Kelley was also among those people who expressed their frustration by fuming on social networks. His diatribes on Facebook were aimed at religion, churches and believers.
Several of his former classmates reported having distanced themselves from the atheist militant, who was hostile and frequently abusive.
Mr. Kelley’s military career was brief, small, and marked by an abrupt end. He was recruited in 2010 to work as a logistician at an Air Force base in New Mexico, a neighboring state of Texas. Two years later, he was court martialled for violence against his wife and for fracturing her young child’s skull. The woman filed for divorce that same year.
For these assaults, the corporal was sentenced to one year in detention. He was also degraded and dismissed from the ranks of the US Air Force. In 2014, he tried unsuccessfully to obtain a review of this conviction on appeal.
It appears that the disgraced soldier then moved to Colorado where his criminal record also mentions charges of animal abuse. He later moved to Texas and remarried. He lived in the rural area of New Braunfels where he settled there with his wife in a barn, isolated, surrounded by woods.
One of his neighbors, interviewed by local channel KSAT, described a “normal guy, nothing special” in an area where weapons are common.
“The only strange thing about him is that we heard a lot of shots coming from his side of the road, often at night,” said Mark Moravitz.
Mr. Kelley shot and killed dozens of people without distinction — old and young, women and children — with his Ruger AR-15 assault rifle. His convictions should theoretically have prevented him from obtaining such a machine.
He had previously posted on Facebook a picture of the weapon on a couch, with the following caption: “It’s a nasty bitch.”
Why did he target the Sutherland Springs Baptist Church? One track followed by the investigators is that the killer’s ex-parents-in-law would come to the church from time to time. But they were not there on Sunday.