Report: TX Shooter Escaped From Mental Health Center, Snuck Guns Onto Base

Law enforcement officials work at the scene of a shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas. A man dressed in black tactical-style gear and armed with an assault rifle opened fire inside the church in the small South Texas community on Sunday, killing and wounding many. The dead ranged in age from 5 to 72 years old. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay/AP

The man accused of shooting and killing 26 people at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas on Sunday escaped from a behavioral center in 2012, threatened his military superiors and tried to sneak weapons onto the Air Force base he lived on, according to reports from the El Paso Police Department that were uncovered by two local news outlets.

That was all while he was facing domestic abuse charges from the Air Force for assaulting his wife and fracturing his step-son’s skull, according to Houston Channel 2 and WFAA 8 reports.

The suspect, Devin Kelley, was placed in a mental health facility called Peak Behavioral Health Services in Santa Teresa, New Mexico and was arrested by El Paso police on June 7, 2012 at a Greyhound bus station not far from the U.S.-Mexico border after he had escaped, according to the police reports.

Someone had informed El Paso police that Kelley “suffered from mental disorders and had plans to run from” the mental health center to “take a bus out of state,” the El Paso police report said.

Police were also advised that Kelley was a “danger to himself and others as he had already been caught sneaking fire arms on Hollaman Air Force base” and that he was “attempting to carry out death threats” that he had made against his military chain of command. When he was arrested he did not resist or saying anything about wanting to harm himself or others, according to the report.

The new reports shed light on the man accused of entering a church and opening fire on parishioners, carrying out the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history.

Kelley had served in the Air Force and was served a bad conduct discharge. He was sentenced to a year in military confinement for domestic abuse not long after he broke out of this mental health institute.

The Air Force has admitted it failed to properly report Kelley’s past crimes to the FBI, documentation that would have blocked him from being able to purchase a firearm. Kelley reportedly purchased four firearms in the past three years.

Read the police report below:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicole Lafond is a news writer for TPM based in New York City. She is also currently earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously worked as an education reporter at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Lafond.
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