The 26-year-old shooting suspect who killed 26 people and injured 20 others in a Texas church on Sunday had been denied a gun license from that state, the governor there said on Monday morning.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told CNN that Devin Patrick Kelley tried to get a license to carry a gun in Texas but the state denied him one, and he cited the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
“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 told CNN. “So how did this happen?”
Kelley received a bad conduct discharge from the U.S. Air Force after being court-martialed in May 2014 for assaulting his wife and child. He was also sentenced to 12 months confinement and two reductions in rank to basic airman. Since his discharge was for “bad conduct” and was not a “dishonorable” discharge, he was still able to buy firearms legally, although Abbott said Monday that Kelley was denied a gun license.
Kelley walked into the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday morning wearing all black, and he started firing. On his way out of the church, the suspect dropped his rifle and fled after being confronted by a local man who had grabbed his rifle.
Kelley was found a short while later, roughly five miles away, dead in his car from a gunshot wound, having crashed his car. It is currently unclear if he shot himself or a local resident shot him.
Kelley was wearing tactical gear and used an AR-15 gun.
This is the largest mass shooting in Texas’ history.
The shooting took place at 11:30 a.m. local time at the First Baptist Church at 216 4th Street in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Sutherland Springs is roughly 35 miles outside of San Antonio and has a population of less than 500 people.
Victims were taken to Connally’s Memorial Hospital. Twenty-three people were killed inside the church, two people were killed outside the church and another succumbed to injuries. The victims ranged in age from 5 years old and up.
This shooting comes on the eight-year anniversary of the Fort Hood shooting, when Nidal Hasan shot and killed 13 at the Fort Hood U.S. Army base; 30 others were injured in the 2009 shooting. Sutherland Springs is 150 miles from Fort Hood.
Kelley was a former U.S. Air Force E1 from 2010 to 2014, and he received a bad conduct discharge after being court-martialed in May 2014 for assaulting his wife and child. He was also sentenced to 12 months confinement and two reductions in rank to basic airman.
Since his discharge was for “bad conduct” and was not a “dishonorable” discharge, he was still able to buy firearms legally. Under U.S. Code, dishonorably discharged military personnel are not allowed to legally purchase a firearm, and this is documented on the ATF’s website.