Robin Jerstad for the Texas Tribune
The shooter who killed 26 people at a church outside of San Antonio on Sunday tried to get a license to carry a gun in Texas, but was denied by the State, Gov. Greg Abbott told CNN’s Chris Cuomo Monday morning.
“So how was it that he was able to get a gun? By all the facts that we seem to know, he was not supposed to have access to a gun,” Abbott said, citing the Texas Department of Public Safety. “So how did this happen?”
Abbott added that the shooter was “deranged.”
At a press conference on Sunday, law enforcement officials said it was too early to speculate on a motive for the killings. However, Freeman Martin, Texas Department of Public Safety’s Region 6 director, said Monday that the shooting may have been the result of a domestic dispute.
“There was a domestic situation within [the suspect’s] family,” Martin said. “[The incident was] not racially motivated, [and it] wasn’t over religious beliefs.”
According to Martin, the shooter – whom DPS confirmed in a tweet Monday morning as 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley of Comal County – had a mother-in-law who attended First Baptist Church. Martin said the mother-in-law had received threatening texts from Kelley and DPS was investigating the situation.
Martin confirmed that Kelley didn’t own a license to carry, but had a private security license.
The U.S. Air Force released a statement Monday afternoon that Kelley’s domestic violence offense was not entered into the National Criminal Information Center database. Federal law prohibits him from buying or possessing firearms after this conviction.
“Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein directed the Air Force Inspector General in collaboration with the Defense Department Inspector General to conduct a complete review of the Kelley case and relevant policies and procedures,” the news release reads.
No terrorism investigation has been opened, according to Chris Combs, special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Antonio division.
Fred Milanowski, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, confirmed that three firearms were recovered – including two handguns.
“All three firearms were purchased by the deceased suspect,” Milanowski said.
As far as the agency knows, there’s nothing that precluded Kelley from purchasing a gun, he said.
In a Monday interview on ABC’s Good Morning America with George Stephanopoulos, Abbott said he does not believe the deadly church shooting was a “random act of violence.”
On Sunday, Kelley entered First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs and opened fire. The victims range from a 18-month-old to a 77-year-old and included the pastor’s 14-year-old daughter. In a press briefing Monday morning, a DPS official said the agency had retrieved video footage from inside First Baptist Church and that all bodies had been removed.
Officials said when the shooter was confronted by a local resident with a gun, he fled the scene. Kelley was later found dead in his car; the cause of death has not been publicly released. The Associated Press reported Sunday that Kelley served in the Air Force but received a bad conduct discharge after he was court-martialed in 2012 for assaulting his spouse and child.
Milanowski said his agency — along with the FBI and DPS — is also investigating Kelley’s military record and doesn’t have all the documents yet related to Kelley’s discharge.
According to Martin, 23 people were killed inside the church, two were killed outside and another died in transport to a local hospital. Four shooting victims are in serious condition and another 10 are in critical condition.
“We’re not sure if that number will rise or not,” Abbott said Sunday night at a news conference. “This will be a long, suffering mourning for those in pain. These people were innocently gunned down.”
About 20 others were taken to hospitals yesterday with “minor” to “very severe” injuries.
“Our church was … a very close family, now most of our church family is gone,” Sherri Pomeroy, the wife of First Baptist Church’s pastor, Frank Pomeroy, said Monday.
President Donald Trump said Kelley had “a lot of problems over a long period of time.”
“We have a lot of mental health problems in our country – as do other countries – but this isn’t a guns situation,” Trump said while speaking at an event in Japan. “I mean, we could go into it, but it’s a little bit soon to go into it. But, fortunately somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction.”