DENVER – The man accused of killing 26 people and wounding 20 others at a Texas church on Sunday bought two weapons in Colorado and at one point was charged with animal cruelty in Colorado Springs for beating and dragging his dog.
Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, was living at a trailer park in Colorado Springs in 2014, according to state voter registration records.
In August 2014, he was charged with animal cruelty – neglect or mistreatment. According to a police report from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, a woman called deputies just after 10 p.m. to report a Husky puppy running through the Fountain Creek RV Park, where Kelley was staying at the time.
The woman reported that she had seen a man, later identified as Kelly, jump on the dog and punch it in its head and neck several times. Another man reported Kelley was yelling at the dog while hitting it, and that the dog was “yelping and whining.” Two others corroborated the story.
“She stated she witnessed four to five punches and then the male suspect grabbed the dog by the neck and drug him away,” the report says.
The witness said Kelley drug the dog back to a camper at lot 60, which is where Kelley was staying. When deputies went to the door of the camper, Kelley refused to come out and speak to officers, or to show them the dog.
After some time, Kelley agreed to come out and talk to deputies, according to the report. One deputy said the dog appeared underweight, and a sergeant got Kelley to tell him he chased after the dog when it wouldn’t obey his commands not to run away.
He further told deputies that he had jumped on top of his dog because “it was acting aggressive to another dog,” but denied beating the dog or dragging it back to the camper.
Kelley was placed in a patrol vehicle and issued a summons in the case. The dog was taken by a deputy to the Veterinary Specialty Center in El Paso County and was to receive veterinary care, according to the report.
The Fountain Creek RV Park told Denver7 Sunday it did not recognize his name, nor did it keep electronic records of who had stayed there.
Court records show that Kelley was also charged with failing to signal and speeding two months later, in October 2014. A day before Christmas of that year, he pleaded guilty to failing to signal, and was ordered to pay a $135 fine. The speeding charge was amended.
Kelley received a deferred sentence in the case of 18 months of unsupervised probation. The case was dismissed once he successfully completed the probation, a Colorado court spokesperson confirmed to Denver7.
Kelley served in the Logistics Readiness division of the U.S. Air Force from 2010, and was stationed at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico until 2014. The base is located about 90 miles northeast of El Paso, Texas.
In 2012, he was court-martialed for two counts of assault on his then-wife and their child, the Air Force confirmed to Denver7 Investigates. He was sentenced to 12 months of confinement and a rank reduction. He and his wife divorced that year.
The New York Times reports that a retired chief prosecutor for the Air Force said Kelley fractured the infant’s skull, and that he pleaded to intentionally doing so.
Air Force officials said Sunday Kelley had received a bad conduct discharge.
An official with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said at Monday morning’s press conference that Kelley had bought four guns—one in each of the past four years.
The ATF official, Fred Milanowski, said three guns were recovered at the scenes of the shooting and of Kelley’s death: a Ruger AR-556 rifle, which was used in the shooting at the church, and a Glock .9mm and Ruger .22-caliber handgun that were both found in Kelley’s vehicle when he was found dead.
It’s unclear which weapons Kelley bought in Colorado, but at least one of those recovered at the scene was bought in the Centennial State.
But according to CNN, Kelley used a Colorado Springs address to buy the AR-556 he bought at a San Antonio outdoors store in 2016.
Academy Sports and Outdoors confirmed Monday afternoon that Kelley had bought two firearms from two different store locations in San Antonio. One was purchased in 2016, and one was bought this year. The store said both were approved by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
By Monday afternoon, the Associated Press reported that the U.S. Air Force failed to submit Kelley's criminal history to the FBI's Criminal Justice Investigation Services Division. The AP cited unnamed Trump administration officials who were granted anonymity to discuss the case.
He also tried to get a license to carry a weapon in Texas, but was denied, according to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
A Department of Public Safety spokesman said that had Kelley received a dishonorable discharge from the military, he would have been prohibited from buying weapons. But the spokesman said officials “do not have all that documentation yet” and would need to further determine what his conviction was in the military.
Kelley did have a license to be a non-commissioned private security guard, but was not allowed to carry a weapon. But officials said Kelley cleared background checks for the license.
Authorities said Monday that Kelley’s former mother-in-law was a parishioner at the Sutherland Springs church, and that Kelley had threatened her before. The officials said they believed the shooting was domestic-violence related, and added they’d found no racial or religious motivations yet.
They also noted that one man engaged Kelley with a semi-automatic rifle outside the church after much of the carnage had already been done. The man shot Kelley, and Kelley dropped his weapon and fled in his vehicle, a DPS spokesman said Monday.
The Good Samaritan and another man jumped in a vehicle and chased Kelley, officials said. At some point, Kelley called his father to tell him he’d been shot and “didn’t think he was going to make it.”
Officials said evidence shows that Kelley shot himself while he was fleeing, but said the pathologist would determine his exact cause and manner of death.