Man who killed 26 inside Texas church arrested for animal cruelty in Colorado

The shooter lived in Colorado Springs and was arrested for animal cruelty.

KUSA - The man who Texas law enforcement says shot and killed 26 people at a small town church Sunday morning was arrested for punching and dragging a dog in Colorado Springs, according to documents obtained by 9Wants to Know.

Devin Kelley, 26, lived in Colorado Springs for the past few years before moving to a suburb of San Antonio -- a couple of counties over from the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.  

It was at this small town church that Kelley gunned down more than two dozen people ranging in age from 18 months old to 77 years old.

The ATF said two of the four guns in Kelley’s possession at the time of the shooting had been purchased in Colorado.

Kelley was arrested for animal cruelty in Colorado on Aug. 1, 2014. 

This case was eventually dismissed. According to public records currently available, the case was dismissed after Kelley successfully completed his sentence.

RELATED: Records show Colorado Springs shooting suspect once lived in Colorado Springs


According to a report about the incident from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, a witness told deputies she called police after she saw Kelley abusing a dog.

The witness told the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office that when she spotted a young white and brown husky running loose near the back of her camping space, Kelley “ran up to the dog and jumped on top of it.” He then began “punching the dog with a closed fist near the head and neck area.”

“She stated she witnessed four to five punches and then the male suspect grabbed the dog by the neck and drug him away,” the arrest report reads.

This account was corroborated by multiple other witnesses – one of whom said Kelley started hitting the dog after it refused to obey his commands, according to the arrest report.

When a deputy knocked on the door to Kelley’s trailer, the arrest report says Kelley initially refused to come outside and said he was going to bed. When an El Paso County sergeant arrived, the report says Kelley told him he wouldn’t come outside or show him the dog without a search warrant.

Deputies were later able to convince Kelley to come outside, according to the report. The dog did not have obvious signs of injury, but it did appear underweight, the report goes on to say.

Kelley went on to tell deputies that he jumped on top of the dog to keep it from running any further and that it was acting aggressively toward other dogs. He denied hitting the dog or grabbing the animal by the neck.

The dog was later impounded for examination by the humane society, according to the arrest report.

This isn’t the first time Kelley has run afoul of the law.

NBC News confirmed that Kelley received a bad conduct discharge from the Air Force, where he served in Logistics Readiness at the Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010 to 2014.

Kelley was court-martialed in 2012 for two counts of Article 128, UCMJ, assault on his spouse and on their child, according to the NBC News report. He was placed on confinement for 12 months and given a reduction to grade E-1.

NBC News reports he was court-martialed in 2012 for two counts of Article 128 UCMJ, assault on his spouse and on their child. He was placed on confinement for 12 months and given a reduction to grade E-1.

The ATF Special Agent in Charge, Fred Malinowski, said Monday that typically a dishonorable discharge would prohibit a person from purchasing a firearm. 

On Monday, the regional director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Freeman Martin, detailed perhaps a part of the suspect's motives. Martin said Kelley had 'expressed anger' towards his mother-in-law, who was a member of the church in Sutherland Springs.

Martin said there was a 'domestic issue' within the family, and that the mother-in-law had received threatening text messages from Kelley.

Kelley entered the church during Sunday service dressed in all black, wearing a ballistic vest and carrying a Ruger AR assault-type rifle, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. 

He wore a black mask with a white 'skull face' during the shooting, according to the Texas Dept. of Public Safety.

As he left the church, a local resident spotted him and grabbed his or her own weapon and exchanged fire. Authorities said Kelley then dropped his gun and fled in his vehicle, with the local resident in pursuit.

Police would find him dead in his car a short while later.

Kelley's cause of death has not yet been determined, but a spokesperson from the Texas Dept. of Public Safety indicated evidence may show the suspect died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

9NEWS is naming the suspect in this shooting in case anyone who knew him can provide more information to investigators about what potentially led to the attack. 

Continuing coverage from 9NEWS:

>     'I changed my mind to go to church today'
>     Sutherland Springs church shooter identified
>     Texas church shooting: Trump responds, monitoring situation from Japan
>     Texas church member says half of congregation gone

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