Texas Sutherland Springs church gunman threatened in-laws before shooting

  • 07/11/2017

The gunman who shot and killed 26 people in a rural Texas church had fought with his in-laws before the shooting.

Gunman Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, sent threatening texts to his ex mother-in-law before he walked into the white-steepled First Baptist Church in rural Sutherland Springs carrying an assault rifle and wearing black tactical gear, then opened fire during a Sunday prayer service.

He wounded at least 20 others, ten critically, officials said - so the death toll could rise.

After he left the church, two local residents, at least one of whom was armed, chased him in their vehicles and exchanged gunfire, and Kelley crashed his car and shot himself to death, Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt told CBS News in an interview on Monday morning.

Kelley then rang his father after being shot to tell him he wouldn't make it, before fatally shooting himself.

Before the attack his ex mother-in-law received threatening texts from the gunman.

"We know that his ex in-laws or in-laws came to church here from time to time... They were not here (on Sunday)," Mr Tackitt says.

Kelley's death toll makes it the fourth deadliest attack in the US, tied with the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott told CBS there was evidence that Kelley had mental health problems and that he had been denied a Texas gun permit.

"This isn't a guns situation. I mean we could go into it but it's a little bit soon to go into it," US President Donald Trump told reporters while on trip to Asia. "But fortunately somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction, otherwise ... it would have been much worse. But this is a mental health problem at the highest level."

Democrats renewed their call to restrict gun ownership.

The victims in Sutherland Springs, a community of fewer than 400 people, east of San Antonio, included the 14-year-old daughter of church pastor Frank Pomeroy.

One couple, Joe and Claryce Holcombe, told the Washington Post they lost eight extended family members, including a pregnant granddaughter-in-law and three of her children.

Kelley served in the Logistics Readiness unit at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010 until his discharge in 2014, according to the US Air Force.

Kelley was court-martialled in 2012 on charges of assaulting his wife and child, and given a bad-conduct discharge, confinement for 12 months and a reduction in rank, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said.

Kelley's Facebook page has been deleted, but cached photos show a profile picture where he appeared with two small children. He also posted a photo of what appeared to be an assault rifle, writing a post that read: "She's a bad bitch."

The FBI are not treating the shooting as domestic terror.

Newshub / Reuters