The mass shooter who opened fire during Mass inside a Texas church killing at least 26 – including eight members of one family – has been identified as a 26-year-old former Bible study teacher who was dishonorably discharged from the US Air Force for assaulting his wife and child.
Devin Patrick Kelley, a married father, walked into the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, dressed in black, tactical gear with a ballistics belt and an assault rifle, and began shooting, according to local law enforcement sources.
The attack only stopped when Kelley, of New Braunfels, a suburb of San Antonio, was confronted by local hero Stephen Willeford, 55, who shot him through a gap in his body armor as the gunman tried to leave the church. Kelley fled in his car, lost control in his vehicle and was found dead inside.
At least 26 people were killed in the shooting, but the death toll is expected to climb, authorities say. Victims include a two-year-old girl and the 14-year-old adopted daughter of the pastor.
He worked in logistics and supply in the Air Force until he was kicked out for assaulting his wife and their child. Kelley was court-martialled for two counts of assaulting his spouse and kid, and received 12 months ‘confinement’ and a dishonorable discharge in 2014, CBS reported.
Former classmates described him as ‘creepy’, ‘crazy’ and an ‘outcast’ who had recently started preaching about atheism and picking fights on social media. However, local law enforcement say he had a relatively clean criminal record, with just a traffic offenses in recent years.
But as he left the church, Willeford risked his life to stop him.
‘A local resident grabbed his rifle and engaged the suspect,’ Martin said. ‘The suspect dropped his rifle, which was a Ruger assault type rifle, and fled from the church. A local citizen pursued the subject at that time.’
Willeford, who has no military experience, didn’t hesitate when came face to face with Kelley, and shot him in between Kelley’s body armor, hitting him in his side.