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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

Devin Kelley: Air force reject who became a mass murderer

In a brief statement, the Pentagon confirmed he served in the US Air Force “at one point” but offered no further details

Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackett gives an update during a news conference at the Stockdale Community Center following a shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs that left many dead and injured in Stockdale, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackett gives an update during a news conference at the Stockdale Community Center following a shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs that left many dead and injured in Stockdale, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Flores

The gunman in Sunday’s church shooting in Texas has been identified as Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, who served in the US Air Force until being court-martialled and given a dishonourable discharge.

The Pentagon confirmed he served in the US Air Force “at one point”, but offered no further details.

His troubled military service – which reportedly ended after a period of imprisonment – is likely to form part of the investigation now under way into what made him open fire on the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs in rural Texas, killing 26 men, women and children during a Sunday service.

Joe Tackitt, Wilson County Sheriff, told CNN: “We have no motive.”

He added that he did not believe Kelley was a member of the congregation.

“He was not from the immediate area,” he said.

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Officials say he lived in New Braunfels, a suburb of San Antonio almost 50km away.

His home was being searched on Sunday evening.

Officers were also scouring his online presence. Before it was taken off-line, his Facebook account included a photograph of an assault rifle.

A LinkedIn account suggested Kelley had served in the US Air Force – in logistics and supply – since leaving school in 2009 high school.

Ann Stefanek, a spokeswoman for the Air Force, said records confirmed that Kelley served in Logistics Readiness at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010 until his discharge.

Pentagon records show he was sentenced to 12 months in confinement, according to the Daily Beast.

After leaving the service, he then volunteered briefly as a teacher for Bible studies at Kingsville First Baptist Church.

Martin Freeman, of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said Kelley was spotted at a petrol station in Sutherland Springs dressed in black, tactical gear at 11.20 am.

“He crossed the street to the church, exited his vehicle and began firing on the church,” he said during a press briefing on Sunday evening. “He moved to the right side of the church and continued to fire, and entered the church and continued to fire.”

The attack came to an end when he was engaged by a local with a rifle.

“A local resident grabbed his rifle and engaged the suspect, said Mr Martin. “The suspect dropped his rifle, an assault-type rifle, and fled from the church. A local citizen pursued the subject at that time.”