Community holds prayer service for church shooting victims
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TEXAS - Dozens of people in Sutherland Springs gathered for a prayer service on Monday evening to remember the 26 lives lost in what is being called the worst mass shooting in Texas history.
“All we have is our faith in God, Jesus Christ. That’s what held us together in the first place. It’s going to make us get through it all,” Bill Brewer, Bethel Christian Fellowship Pastor, said.
About one hour before the prayer service, law enforcement officials revealed new information about the evidence found inside the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs.
“A substantial amount of evidence, physical evidence, has been collected including hundreds of shell casings, more than 15 magazines – 30 round capacity magazines – have been recovered,” Freeman Martin, with the Texas Department of Public Safety said.
Martin said an autopsy had been performed on the suspect’s body and revealed he was shot three times. Two of the gunshot wounds were by a local resident who chased after the suspect after the shooting and the final gunshot was self-inflicted, according to DPS.
Investigators refrained from using the suspect’s name during Tuesday evening’s press conference because they did not want to glorify what he did.
The suspect, identified as 26-year-old Devin Kelley, was convicted of assault in an Air Force court martial in 2012 and given a bad conduct discharge in 2014. Under Pentagon rules, information about convictions of military personnel in crimes like assault should be submitted to the FBI’s Criminal Justice Investigation Services Division. The Associated Press reported a Trump administration official confirmed the Air Force did not submit Kelley’s criminal history to the FBI, as required.
Law enforcement officials also confirmed Kelley bought four guns over the last four years.
“For the four purchases that he made, the NIC system did their required checks and there was no prohibitive information in the system that we checked that said that he could not have purchased that firearm,” Chris Combs, with the FBI, said.
Investigators believe the motive behind the shooting was domestic, stating the suspect had sent threatening text messages to his mother-in-law, who attended the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs.