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Texas Shooter - Who Was He, What Were His Military Ties?


First responders are at the scene of shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Nov. 5, 2017.

The gunman who slaughtered worshipers Sunday morning at a wood-frame church in a small south Texas town had a troubled past that included several months of imprisonment, according to the U.S. military.

Twenty-six-year-old Devin Kelley, who killed 26 people and wounded at least 20 more during a church service at the white-steepled First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, served in the U.S. Air Force from January 2010 until May 2014.

Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, of Braunfels, Texas
Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, of Braunfels, Texas

Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said Kelley was court-martialed in 2012 for charges of assault and aggravated assault on his first wife and a child, earning him a bad conduct discharge, 12 months' confinement and a reduction in rank.

Another U.S. Air Force official told VOA that Kelley lost his gun ownership rights when he pleaded guilty to and was convicted of the domestic violence charges.

Kelley served his jail time at Naval Consolidated Brig, Miramar military prison in San Diego, California, according to the official. He entered the Air Force as a student at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas, and served as a traffic maintenance apprentice at Holloman Air Force Base in Otero County, New Mexico, before his imprisonment.

His rank of E-3, Airman First Class, was reduced to E-1, Private, as part of his court martial, which was decided by a mixed jury of officers and enlisted, according to the official.

Freeman Martin, a regional director of the Texas Department of Safety, said Kelley wore all black, including a ballistics vest, during the shooting.

Officials said Kelley lived in a San Antonio suburb and did not appear to be linked to any organized terror groups.

Authorities say multiple weapons were found in Kelley's car.

Records show that in 2014, he married his second wife, Danielle Lee Shields, who also goes by the name Danielle Brassfield.

The head of the church's Sunday school told VOA the shooter was known to them, as he had family members in the congregation.

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    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea.

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