Sutherland Springs, TX – Devin Kelley, the shooter who murdered 26 people at the First Baptist Church on Sunday, was able to purchase guns because the U.S. Air Force didn’t submit his criminal history to the FBI, as required.
Officials spoke in confidentiality, and said that he was convicted of assault in a 2012 Air Force court martial, according to PBS.
That assault occurred when Kelley “intentionally” fractured his infant stepson’s skull and assaulted his wife.
According to court records, Kelley was accused of choking his wife, pulling her hair, and kicking her.
Retired Colonel Don Christensen, former Air Force chief prosecutor, said that Kelley pled to intentionally fracturing his stepson’s skull.
Kelley was sentenced to 12 months in a military prison, received a reduction in military rank, and was given a dishonorable discharge in 2014, according to Fox News.
Late Monday afternoon, Air Force officials confirmed that Kelley’s criminal record was not entered into the federal database used to conduct background checks on citizens looking to purchase a firearm.
No reason was given as to why that occurred.
Pentagon rules for convictions of military personnel in crimes such as assault are required to be submitted to the FBI’s Criminal Justice Investigation Services Division. The information would then show up when someone applied for a permit to purchase a gun.
Kelley has also been charged with cruelty to animals, outside of the military.
In August, 2014, when he was living in Colorado Springs, he jumped on and repeatedly punched his underweight Husky puppy. He denied beating the dog, and said he had jumped on it when it became aggressive toward another dog. He received a deferred prosecution for that charge.
His history of abuse followed him to Texas shortly after his 2014 discharge, when deputies were called to his parents’ house after his girlfriend told a friend that he was abusing her.
Deputies said that when they arrived, they were told that the call was “a misunderstanding.”
Police believe that a Ruger AR-556 rifle found at the church was Kelley’s weapon of choice. Two additional handguns, a Glock 9 mm and a Ruger .22 caliber, were found in his vehicle. Police said that all three guns were purchased by Kelley.
In a statement, Academy Sports Outdoors, a chain sporting goods store, told Fox News that Kelley had purchased two guns on two separate dates at two separate locations in San Antonio. They said that one gun was purchased in 2016, and a second gun was purchased in 2017.
“We confirmed that both sales were approved by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). We are cooperating with law enforcement as they investigate further.”
Texas DPS Regional Director Martin Freeman said Kelley did not have a license to carry a concealed handgun, but had a “non-commissioned, unarmed private security license similar to a security guard at a concert-type situation.”
The license was for a job at a water park in New Braunfels, which he was fired from after working only six weeks.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Schlitterbahn New Braunfels confirmed that Kelley was terminated, and also said that he had passed his criminal background check to get the job.
One victim from the mass shooting was Kelley’s 71-year-old grandmother-in-law, Lula Woicinski White.
It has also been confirmed that Kelley sent his mother-in-law threatening text messages prior to the shooting. She attends church there but did not attend on Sunday.
Texas DPS Regional Director Martin Freeman said that there “was a domestic situation within the gunman’s family.”
After hero Stephen Willeford confronted and shot Kelly after the massacre, Kelley fled, and Willeford and another resident pursued his vehicle. During the pursuit, Kelley texted his father to tell him that he had been shot, and “didn’t think he was going to make it.”
The motive for Kelley’s shooting spree is not believed to be religiously or racially-motivated, and terrorism is not suspected. It does appear that Kelley targeted the church that was attended by his second wife’s family, according to the Texas DPS.