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Church shooter spent time in a mental health center

by Leigh Jones
Posted 11/07/17, 06:12 pm

The man who killed 26 people and injured 20 others at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday previously spent time in a mental health center in New Mexico. In 2012, he briefly escaped, according to police reports. Officers searching for Devin Patrick Kelley found him at a bus stop in El Paso, Texas, and returned him to the center. Kelley, then 21 years old, was stationed at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. According to the reports, he was caught trying to sneak guns onto the base and had made death threats against his superior officers. A year later, he was court-martialed for assaulting his former wife and her child and served a year in military confinement. The Air Force gave him a bad-conduct discharge in 2014. Investigators in Texas are still trying to figure out exactly what prompted Kelley to carry out Sunday’s attack. The FBI sent his locked phone to a lab for analysis. Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt Jr. said Pastor Frank Pomerory told investigators he saw Kelley at the church’s fall festival on Oct. 31 and that his behavior didn’t appear out of the ordinary. Police believe Kelley targeted the church because his mother-in-law is a member. They say he sent her threatening text messages before the attack but haven’t offered any other details about the dispute between them.


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Leigh Jones

Leigh lives in Houston with her husband and daughter. She is WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on education for WORLD Magazine and WORLD Digital.

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