SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas (KXAN) — Authorities believe the man suspected of killing 26 people and injuring about 20 others at a Texas church shot himself following a car wreck.
Wilson County Sheriff Joe D. Tackitt Jr. tells CBS News that police found Devin Patrick Kelley dead inside his vehicle Sunday shortly after the shootings in Sutherland Springs.
Tackitt says Kelley was being pursued by two community members and investigators believe gunfire was exchanged before Kelley’s vehicle crashed.
The sheriff says investigators believe Kelley shot himself after the wreck.
At a press conference Sunday evening, law enforcement officials said the shooter was white, in his 20s and wore all-black, “tactical-type gear” and used an assault rifle. While law enforcement wouldn’t name him, media outlets identified the gunman in a deadly church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, as 26-year-old Devin Kelley.
“The delay in getting him identified is there are multiple weapons in the vehicle and the vehicle is being processed by our Texas Ranger special operations group bomb techs,” said Department of Public Safety Regional Director Freeman Martin.
Martin did confirm the suspect was wearing a bulletproof vest and had a Ruger AR assault-type rifle.
The gunman was found dead in his vehicle on the Wilson County-Guadalupe County line after a citizen confronted him with his own rifle at the church and then chased him.
Public records show Kelley’s last address was in New Braunfels, and that his wife’s family lived in Sutherland Springs. A KXAN News crew saw law enforcement at his listed address on Farm to Market 2722 near New Braunfels Sunday evening.
Comal County records show two traffic violations — one for not stopping at a stop sign, and another for driving 52 miles per hour in a 35 mile per hour zone—both occurred in 2008. Another address listed an Air Force base in New Mexico from 2011 to 2012.
Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek confirmed that Kelley was previously a member of the Air Force and served in Logistics Readiness at Holloman AFB in New Mexico from 2010 until he was discharged. Stefanek says he was court-martialed in 2012 for two counts of assault — assault on his spouse and assault on their child. Kelley received a Bad Conduct Discharge and 12 months in confinement.
A spokesperson for New Braunfels ISD confirms Kelley graduated from New Braunfels High School in 2009.
“This senseless act of violence is something that is hard to understand and has definitely shaken our community. We grieve with those that suffered a loss and offer our deepest condolences,” New Braunfels ISD said in a statement.
The First Baptist Church of Kingsville, Texas, posted on its Facebook page that Kelley had volunteered for one night as a helper at the church’s Vacation Bible School in 2014. It says he was not a member and didn’t serve in any other way.
“Our congregation would like to offer our prayers and deepest condolences to the Sutherland Springs community mourning the loss of their loved ones,” the post stated.Kelley’s Neighbors
KXAN spoke to nearly a dozen neighbors surrounding the property—no one had ever seen who lived there. They told KXAN that’s why people move out to that part of Comal County, for seclusion.
However, neighbor after neighbor said they’ve heard volleys of gunshots coming from the property for the past few years. It is legal to shoot on a property of this size (10 to 12 acres). Neighbors also describe hearing large explosions every few weeks.
The Albers have lived in the area for 10 years. They tell KXAN the last few nights they’ve heard more gunshots than normal.
“It honestly feels like a war zone sometimes. One time we could hear the bullets whizzing by our house. And sometimes we hear loud explosions maybe from targets or something like that,” said Ryan Albers.