Texas church shooting suspect’s history of abuse before the massacre

Devin Kelley abused humans and animals, according to documents.

ByABC News
November 6, 2017, 6:47 PM

— -- The man who allegedly killed 26 people and injured at least 20 others in a rural Texas church this weekend had a history of domestic and animal abuse, according to officials.

Devin Kelley, 26, was named by law enforcement as the suspected shooter. He was found dead in his car after fleeing the scene of the shooting in Sutherland Springs Sunday morning.

Texas law enforcement officials said today that the shooting was connected to a “domestic situation going on within [his extended] family,” which wouldn’t be a first for him.

Kelley served in the Air Force from 2010 until 2014 and he left after receiving a bad conduct discharge, which is the second-lowest level of dismissal in the armed services.

He was court-martialed in 2012 on charges of assault and aggravated assault on his spouse and a child, according to the Air Force.

According to documents from the Air Force, Kelley pleaded guilty to charges that the abuses included hitting his then-wife with his hands and choking her, as well as striking and hitting his stepson "with a force likely to produce death or grievous bodily harm."

He was found guilty by a mixed jury of officers and enlisted personnel and began his military confinement at the Naval Consolidated Brig, Miramar in California, outside San Diego, starting on Nov. 7, 2012. He was discharged from both his confinement and military service in May 2014.

Kelley had been serving at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. He had been trained at Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas and worked his way up to be a traffic maintenance apprentice at Holloman before he became a prisoner. The highest rank he achieved was as an Airman First Class (E-3), but as part of his conviction he was reduced in rank two grades to a Basic Airman (E-1).

He also ran into trouble with the law as a civilian, according to court records, which indicate he was cited for misdemeanor cruelty to animals in August 2014. Court records indicate that Colorado Springs police responded to a call after a woman said she saw Kelley repeatedly punch a dog with a closed fist. The citation was issued in Colorado and was dismissed after he completed deferred probation and paid restitution in 2016.

Recent work as a security guard

More recently, he was fired from a brief stint as a water park security guard this summer, his former employer said today.

The company that owns Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels, Texas, a water park and resort about 35 miles north of the church, released a statement today confirming that Kelley worked there this summer.

Devin Kelley, 26, identified as the suspected shooter who opened fire in the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, is pictured in an undated Facebook photo.

"Devin Patrick Kelley worked briefly — 5 1/2 weeks — this summer at Schlitterbahn New Braunfels as a seasonal unarmed night security guard. His employment was terminated," Winter Prosapio, the corporate director of communications at Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resort, wrote in a statement posted to the resort's website.

"All our security guards must pass a criminal background check through the Texas Department of Public Safety," she continued.

Prosapio declined to provide specifics about his firing. "He was not a good fit," she told ABC News.

His most recent job was as a night security guard at an RV park in New Braunfels. The manager at Summit Vacation and RV Resort told ABC News that he started working there six weeks ago, and he left early on Saturday, saying that he had a headache.

He never went to work on Sunday, the day of the shooting.

Manager Claudia Varjabedian said that Kelley typically worked a shift from 4:00 p.m. to midnight. Varjabedian said he was an attractive applicant for the park because he already held a security license.

"We didn't even get to know him. We only know what he put on his application,” the manager told ABC News.

ABC News' Luis Martinez, Crystal Muguerzaand Marcus Moore contributed to this report.

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