A former US service man who shot 26 worshipers to death during Sunday prayers in Texas was embroiled in a domestic dispute with his in-laws and had sent threatening text messages to his wife’s mother before the massacre, officials said Monday.
The Pentagon separately disclosed that it had failed to furnish information about the gunman’s criminal record from his US Air Force service to a national database that should haveprevented him from legally purchasing the firearms he bought.
The killer, Devin Kelley, 26, was convicted by court-martial of assaulting his first wife and step-son while serving in an Air Force logistics readiness unit and spent a year in detention before his bad-conduct discharge in 2014, according to the Pentagon.
The Air Force acknowledged on Monday that Kelley’s 2012 conviction on two counts of domestic violence were never entered into the National Criminal Information Center (NCIC) system, a US government data bank used by licensed gun dealers for conducting background checks on firearms purchasers.
Federal law forbids anyone from selling or giving a gun to someone convicted of a crime involving domestic violence.
A sporting goods retail chain has said Kelley passed background checks when he bought a gun in 2016 and a second firearm the following year.
Christopher Combs, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s San Antonio division, said there was nothing in the NCIC or two related databases that would have barred Kelley from legally buying any of three weapons police recovered from their investigation of the slayings.
Details of a background of violent, disturbing behavior emerged a day after Sunday’s rampage in southeastern Texas,which ranks as the deadliest mass shooting by a lone gunman in the state and one of the five most lethal in modern US history.
Kelley was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head after a failed attempt to make his getaway from the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, authorities said.
The attack came about a month after a gunman killed 58 people in Las Vegas in the deadliest shooting by a lone assailant in modern US history.