Church Shooting

Man opens fire on patrons of Texas church


Texas Department of Public Safety

Photo of the shooter, Devin Kelley, released by Texas law officials

Marie Foster, Staff Reporter

A seemingly normal day in a Texas church took a dreadful turn when many people were left in fear for their lives.

Devin Kelley, 26, from New Braunfels, Texas walked into the First Baptist Church and began to open fire on attendees of the service the morning of November 5.

Kelley began shooting from the front of the church, moved to the right side of the church, then finally moved inside.

Kelley shouted profane words as he began his attack on the inside of the church. Victims of the shooting are said to be ages 5-72 years old. The death toll is 26, while the number of wounded victims are 20. This is now the deadliest church shooting in America, and the fourth deadliest mass shooting behind Las Vegas, Orlando and Virginia, as ABC News states.

Among the dead is the 14-year-old daughter of the First Baptist Church’s pastor, Frank Pomeroy. Kelley was said to of been dressed in all black and wearing a ballistic vest. The aftermath of the shooting is said to of been “horrific.”

“You don’t expect to walk into a church and see something like that. Especially when all the bodies were still there. Seeing the children is what hurts the most,” Wilson County Sheriff, Joe Tackitt said.

Kelley had a lengthy history with offenses prior to his attack on the First Baptist Church.

He had served in logistics readiness at Holloman Air Force Base up until 2010 when he was then discharged due to assaulting his then wife and stepson. According to court records, him and his wife married in 2010, and then divorced in 2012.

In June of 2012 he escaped from a mental facility while awaiting his court martial. He escaped from Peak Behavioral Health Systems in Santa Teresa, New Mexico according to the El Paso Police Department. In 2015 he tried to get a license to conceal and carry a handgun, but the state of Texas turned him down due to his ties to an animal abuse charge. In April of 2016, Kelley bought the gun he used during the mass shooting, but said on the paperwork he filled out at the store that he did not have any type of criminal record, and a Colorado address was used. Air Force officials had failed to flag Kelley’s record, which would have prevented him from buying the high powered weapon he used in the attack.

He was described to of been ¨suffering from mental disorders and was a danger to himself,¨ as stated. The nature of these crimes went unnoticed as the military justice system does not offer adequate treatment or services for transitioning to civilian life.

As Kelley was fleeing the church, a neighbor to the church came out and engaged him with his own gun. After a brief chase, law enforcement found Kelley dead in his car. Authorities are not sure if the death had to do with a self-inflicted wound, or  a wound obtained by the neighbor who previously was firing at him.

The first service was held for two victims of the shooting about a week after it occurred. Pomeroy spoke to the over 1,000 attendees at the service.

“I thank my Lord and my God that those 26 who are no longer with us are dancing in his presence,” Pomeroy stated.