Devin Kelley served in the US Air Force before being discharged for bad conduct.
By Tim Stelloh, NBC News
He arrived at church ready for war, wearing black tactical gear and a ballistics vest and toting what authorities described as an “assault-type rifle.”
Then Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, allegedly opened fire on a small Texas church on Sunday morning, killing 26 people, wounding at least 10 others and providing the two-gas station community of Sutherland Springs with a grim distinction.
“We are dealing with the largest mass shooting in our state’s history,” Gov. Greg Abbott said at a news conference.
Ann Stefanek, a spokeswoman for the Air Force, confirmed that Kelley was court-martialed in 2012 on two charges of assaulting his spouse and their child. He was confined for a year, given a bad conduct discharge and reduced in rank to E-1, or airman basic, Stefanek said.
A search of criminal records in Comal County, where Kelley lived, yielded only minor violations — driving with an expired registration, speeding, failure to stop at a stop sign, driving without insurance.
A New Braunfels Independent School District spokeswoman confirmed that Kelley graduated from New Braunfels High School in 2009, but declined to offer additional details about him.
“This senseless act of violence is something that is hard to understand and has definitely shaken our community,” the spokeswoman, Rebecca M. Villarreal, said in a statement.
Dave Ivey, Kelley’s uncle, said in a Facebook message that he “never in a million years could of believed Devin could be capable of this kind of thing.”
“I am numb,” Ivey said. “My family will suffer because of his coward actions. … I am so sorry for the victims in Texas.”
Related: A Short History of Mass Shootings at Houses of Worship
Federal officials said they’d found no obvious link to an organized terrorist group. Abbott said it wasn’t clear whether Kelley had relatives inside the church when he opened fire, and Freeman Martin regional director of the state Department of Public Safety, said authorities were investigating whether Kelley belonged to a militia. But Freeman added: “We can’t say one way or another.”
Martin told reporters that Kelley was wearing the tactical gear and the ballistics vest when he pulled into a gas station in Sutherland Springs at 11:20 a.m. (12:20 p.m. ET) Sunday. He had multiple weapons in his car, Martin said. Martin didn’t provide additional details, but he said Texas Ranger bomb specialists were processing the car.
After leaving the gas station, the gunman crossed the street, got out of his car and sprayed First Baptist Church’s right side with his rifle, Martin said. He then entered the church and continued to fire until a local resident grabbed Kelley’s rifle, forcing him to drop it and flee. The resident pursued Kelley, who drove off the road and crashed, Martin said.
Kelley was later found dead, Martin said, although it was unclear how he died.
“We don’t know if it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound or if he was shot by our local resident who engaged him in gunfire,” he said.
This article originally appeared on NBC News