Devin Kelley had been declared “a danger to himself and others,” but he still was able to buy several guns, including the rifle he used to kill 26 people on Sunday in a church.
Devin Kelley, the gunman behind the worst mass shooting in Texas history, escaped from a psychiatric hospital while he was in the Air Force, and was caught a few miles away by local police, who were told that he had made death threats against his superiors and tried to smuggle weapons onto his base, the New York Times reports. The episode was another in a series of red flags about the threat Kelley posed to those around him. None of the warnings stopped Kelley from purchasing several firearms, including the rifle he used to kill 26 people on Sunday.
A 2012 El Paso police report said officers took Kelley, then 21, into custody at a bus station, where he apparently planned to flee on a bus after escaping from Peak Behavioral Health Services, a hospital a few miles away in Santa Teresa, N.M. He had gone to the hospital after being charged in a military court with assaulting his wife and baby stepson, charges he later pleaded guilty to. The report says Kelley “suffered from mental disorders,” and that he “was attempting to carry out death threats” against “his military chain of command.” The man “was a danger to himself and others as he had already been caught sneaking firearms onto Holloman Air Force Base,” it added. Kelley later pleaded guilty in a military court to repeated assaults on his first wife and her son, a toddler, including one that left the boy with a fractured skull. He was sentenced to a year in confinement. The Times reviews Kelley’s troubled history, quoting a former neighbor as saying, “Something didn’t seem right with him.”