Who is Devin Kelley, the Texas church shooter?


The gunman who turned a Texas church into a shooting gallery had a turbulent past, including a court-martial from the Air Force for assaulting his first wife and child, an animal cruelty arrest — and a habit of harassing ex-girlfriends.

"He was very sick in the head," Katy Landry, a former girlfriend of Devin Patrick Kelley, told NBC News.

Kelley, 26, arrived at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs on Sunday ready for war, wearing black tactical gear and a ballistics vest and toting what authorities described as an "assault-type rifle." He opened fire, killing 26 people, at least a dozen of them children. 

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What we know about Texas church shooting suspect Devin Kelley
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What we know about Texas church shooting suspect Devin Kelley

Devin Patrick Kelley is accused of killing more than two dozen people in a shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

(Texas Department of Safety/Handout via REUTERS)

The 26-year-old live in this home in New Braunfels, Texas.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman)

He was a member of the U.S. Air Force before discharged and court-martialed for reportedly assault his first wife and child.

(Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Officials said Kelley was involved in a domestic dispute with the family of  a woman he married in 2014.

(Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)

He worked at Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resort.

(Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)

Kelley used an AR-556 rifle and wore tactical gear during the attack, according to authorities.

(Photo Illustration by George Frey/Getty Images)

Two ex-girlfriends told NBC News that Kelley stalked them after breakups.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Devin Patrick Kelley attended high school at New Braunfels High School.

(Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)

Authorities said Kelley called his father during the chase to say he had been shot and might not survive. He was later found dead in his vehicle. 

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A former schoolmate of Kelley told Reuters that he shared posts on Facebook about atheism and his assault weapon in recent years.

(Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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What was behind this act of carnage in a place of sanctuary? Authorities have not specified a motive but they noted that his mother-in-law had attended the church and been threatened by him.

Dave Ivey, Kelley's uncle, said in a Facebook message that he "never in a million years could of believed Devin could be capable of this kind of thing."

Related: Texas Church Shooter Had Threatened Mother-in-Law

"I am numb," Ivey said. "My family will suffer because of his coward actions. ... I am so sorry for the victims in Texas."
Details of Kelley's life, however, painted a portrait of a young man capable of disturbing behavior and, allegedly, violence.

Ann Stefanek, a spokeswoman for the Air Force, confirmed that Kelley — who joined the military after graduating from New Braunfels High School in 2009 — was court-martialed in 2012 on two charges of assaulting his first spouse and a child.

He was confined for a year, given a bad conduct discharge and reduced in rank to E-1, or airman basic, Stefanek said.

Records show his first wife divorced him in 2012 in New Mexico. "She's very upset," the ex-wife's mother told NBC News, adding that she did not want to speak about him until she was interviewed by law enforcement.

Kelley remarried in Texas in 2014. The status of that marriage was not clear, but authorities said there was a "domestic situation" with him and his in-laws.

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Photos from the scene of the Sutherland Springs, Texas church shooting
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Photos from the scene of the Sutherland Springs, Texas church shooting
Police block a road in Sutherland Springs, Texas on November 5, 2017, after a mass shooting a church nearby. A gunman shot dead at least 20 worshippers attending Sunday morning services at a Baptist church in Texas, news media reported. / AFP PHOTO / SUZANNE CORDEIRO (Photo credit should read SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP/Getty Images)
Police block a road in Sutherland Springs, Texas on November 5, 2017, after a mass shooting a church nearby. A gunman shot dead at least 20 worshippers attending Sunday morning services at a Baptist church in Texas, news media reported. / AFP PHOTO / SUZANNE CORDEIRO (Photo credit should read SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP/Getty Images)
Police block a road in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on November 5, 2017, after a mass shooting at the the First Baptist Church. A gunman went into the church during Sunday morning services and shot dead some two dozen worshippers, the sheriff said, in the latest mass shooting to shock the US. 'Approximately 25 people' were dead, including the shooter, Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt told NBC News. At least 10 people were wounded. The motive was not immediately known, he added. / AFP PHOTO / SUZANNE CORDEIRO (Photo credit should read SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP/Getty Images)
Police block a road in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on November 5, 2017, after a mass shooting at the the First Baptist Church (rear). A gunman went into the church during Sunday morning services and shot dead some two dozen worshippers, the sheriff said, in the latest mass shooting to shock the US. 'Approximately 25 people' were dead, including the shooter, Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt told NBC News. At least 10 people were wounded. The motive was not immediately known, he added. / AFP PHOTO / SUZANNE CORDEIRO (Photo credit should read SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP/Getty Images)
Families gather at the community center awaiting news about the First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
Families gather at the community center awaiting news about the First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 5: Law enforcement officials gather near the First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 20 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 5: Law enforcement officials gather near the First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 20 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 6: Law enforcement officials gather near the First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 20 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 5: Law enforcement and forensic officials gather near the First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 20 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 5: A forensics official passes by the entrance to the First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 20 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 5: Law enforcement officials gather near the First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 20 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
Families gather at the community center awaiting news about the First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
Police are at the scene of the First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
Families gather at the community center awaiting news about the First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
Police have closed off the roads near the scene of the First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
First responders are at the shooting scene at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
First responders are at the scene of shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
First responders are at the scene of shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 5: People gather near First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 26 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, allegedly entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 5: Law enforcement officials gather near First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 26 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, allegedly entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
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"The suspect's mother-in-law attended this church," Freeman Martin, regional director of the state Department of Public Safety, said at a Monday news conference. "She has received threatening texts from him."

Related: About Half of the Texas Church Victims Were Children

Two ex-girlfriends told NBC News that Kelley stalked them after breakups.

"Years after dating me he would try to bribe me to hang out with him," Landry, who met Kelley in church as a teenager, told NBC News in a Facebook message. "He ended up assaulting me. He would stalk me by repeatedly calling me — even prank calling me, saying really weird stuff.

"That was another thing about him — he was very sick in the head...He would tell me very sick strange things," she said, without providing details.

Brittany Adcock, 22, said she dated Kelley for two months when she was 13 and he was 18.

"At the time I didn't think much into it being so young but now I realize that there's something off about someone who is 18 with someone who is 13," she said.

When she broke it off, he continued to harass her, she said.

"He somehow would always find out my number although none of my friends talked to him and he would constantly call me until I blocked his number," she said. "Then I'd get calls from an unknown number so I've had to change my number quite a bit.

"He would offer me money to hang out with him quite a bit. There has been one point that I called the police because he was just calling me so much I wanted to report harassment," Adcock said.

"One time he told me I should move in with him and his wife and that he would take care of me as long as I walked around topless. Not long after, his wife messaged me and asked why I'm talking to her husband and I told her what he was saying and sent her screenshots and she then apologized and then I was blocked from speaking to her." 

A search of criminal records in Comal County, where Kelley lived, yielded only minor violations — driving with an expired registration, speeding, failure to stop at a stop sign, driving without insurance.

But in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where Kelley lived for a short time, he was arrested in 2014 on an animal cruelty charge, according to police records.

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Tributes to the victims of the Texas church shooting
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Tributes to the victims of the Texas church shooting
Mourners attend a candle light vigil after a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
Texas Governor Greg Abbott attends a candle light vigil after a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
Brayleigh and her brother Branson attend a candle light vigil after a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
Community leader Mike Gonzales attends a candle light vigil after a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
Ramiro and Sofia Martinez attend a candle light vigil after a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
Sofia Martinez, 9, attends a candle light vigil after a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
A woman attends a candle light vigil after a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
Local residents take part in a candle light vigil for victims of a mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, US., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammad Khursheed
A woman and her children take part in a vigil for victims of a mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, US., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammad Khursheed TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Michaun Johnson attends a candle light vigil after a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
Jordan Moy holds his 5 year old daughter Bryleigh Moy as he is interviewed across the street from a mass shooting site of the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
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Witnesses to that incident told investigators that they saw Kelley chasing the dog at a trailer park and attacking the animal when he caught it.

"The suspect then started beating on the dog with both fists, punching it in the head and chest," the police report said, citing a witness. "He could hear the suspect yelling at the dog and while he was striking it, the dog was yelping and whining. The suspect then picked up the dog by the neck into the air and threw it onto the ground and then drug him away to lot 60."

Court records show that Kelley, who told police he was trying to stop the dog from attacking another animal, paid a fine in the case.

As Sutherland Springs mourned its dead, investigators were trying to piece together a portrait of the gunman and determine the motive. Federal officials said they'd found no obvious link between Kelley and an organized terrorist group, and state police said there was no evidence of a racial of religious motivation.

Martin told reporters that Kelley was wearing the tactical gear and the ballistics vest when he pulled into a gas station in Sutherland Springs at 11:20 a.m. (12:20 p.m. ET) Sunday. He had multiple weapons in his car, Martin said. 

After leaving the gas station, the gunman crossed the street, got out of his car and sprayed First Baptist Church's right side with his rifle, Martin said. He then entered the church and continued to fire until a local resident grabbed Kelley's rifle, forcing him to drop it and flee. The resident pursued Kelley, who drove off the road and crashed, Martin said.

Kelley was later found dead, Martin said, although it was unclear how he died.

"The cause and manner of the death...will be determined by a pathologist during the autopsy," Martin said. "However, investigators found evidence at the scene that indicates the subject may have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound." 

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