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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

Texas gunman threatened his mother-in-law before rampage

Investigators also revealed that the shooter had been confronted about domestic violence at least twice in the last five years

Jim Thompson hangs a Texas state flag near the site of the shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Jim Thompson hangs a Texas state flag near the site of the shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Devin Patrick Kelley, the man behind a murderous shooting spree that killed 26 people at a small-town Texas church, had sent threatening text messages to his mother-in-law before the attack, which appeared to have been driven by domestic tensions, authorities said Monday.

A day after the deadliest mass shooting in Texas’ history, investigators also revealed that the shooter had been confronted about domestic violence at least twice in the last five years, including an assault on his ex-wife and a child that ended his Air Force career and another report of violence against a girlfriend who became his second wife.

In the tiny community of Sutherland Springs, population 400, grieving townspeople were reeling from their losses. The dead ranged from 18 months to 77 years old and included multiple members of some families.

“Our church was not comprised of members or parishioners. We were a very close family,” said Sherri Pomeroy, the wife of the church pastor, who was out of town with her husband when the attack happened. “Now most of our church family is gone.”

The couple’s 14-year-old daughter, Annabelle Pomeroy, was among those killed.

The massacre appeared to stem from a domestic situation and was not racially or religiously motivated, Freeman Martin of the Texas Department of Public Safety said.

Based on evidence at the scene, investigators believe Mr Kelley died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after he was chased by bystanders, one of whom was armed, and crashed his car.

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Read more:

Texas church shooting: gunman was dressed in full combat gear and used a semi-automatic weapon

‘More than 20 dead’ after church shooting in Texas

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The 26-year-old shooter also used his cellphone to tell his father he had been shot and did not think he would survive, authorities said.

The investigation showed that Kelley had displayed a pattern of violence spanning years.

In 2014, sheriff's deputies went to his home to check out a domestic violence complaint involving him and his then-girlfriend. People in the house said there was no problem, and no arrests were made. Kelley married the girlfriend two months later.

That same year, Kelley was discharged from the Air Force for the assaulting involving his previous wife. He had served 12 months of confinement after a 2012 court-martial.

He was also charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty in 2014 in Colorado and was the focus of a protective order issued in that state in 2015.

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