Authorities say that a “domestic situation” within the Texas gunman’s family may have sparked the horrific shooting that left 26 dead in a Sutherland Springs, Texas, church.
“The suspect’s mother-in-law attended this church,” Texas Department of Public Safety spokesperson Freeman Martin told reporters Monday morning, according to the New York Times. “We know that he had made threatening texts, and we can’t go into detail into that domestic situation that is continuing to be vetted and thoroughly investigated.
“This was not racially motivated, it wasn’t over religious beliefs; it was a domestic situation going on,” Martin emphasized.
Wilson County, Texas, Sheriff Joe Tackitt said that it is believed that the gunman, identified as 26-year-old Devin Kelley, first went around the outside of First Baptist Church before entering the sanctuary and shooting at the congregants. At many as 14 children and a pregnant woman lay dead in the aftermath of the killings. Those dead ranged from ages 18 months to 77 years.
After the shooter left the church, he and an armed citizen engaged in a brief “firefight” before Kelley got inside his vehicle and drove away.
Kelley then called his father from his cellphone during a chase with authorities, saying that he had been shot. Kelley told his father that he “didn’t think he was going to make it” before he shot himself. Officials have not confirmed yet if that shot caused the fatal injury.
According to the New York Times, the sheriff described the shooting as horrific and methodical. Kelley, it appeared, began at the front of the church and then “shot his way in,” firing the weapon from side to side as he walked through the room. At the time, he was wearing all black and had a ballistic vest strapped to his chest.
“There was nothing anyone could do until he came out,” Tackitt said.
Kelley’s in-laws were interviewed by investigators Sunday night. They were not in town at the time of the shooting, the Times notes.
According to the report, the shooter did not have a license to carry but did have a private security license “similar to a security guard at a concert.” Authorities retrieved three weapons belonging to him, including the rifle used at the church and two handguns that were stored in his car.
Read more at the New York Times.