Church shooter escaped mental health facility, threatened Air Force command

Devin Kelley. (TX DPS Drivers License Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Police reports show Sutherland Springs church shooter Devin Kelley escaped from a mental health facility shortly after the military charged him with assault against his then-wife and stepson.

KPRC requested copies of the report, which showed Kelley was picked up by El Paso officers at a bus terminal in downtown El Paso, Texas on June 13, 2012. He had been living at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico at the time, which is about 94 miles away.

Kelley escaped from Peak Behavioral Health Services in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, according to the report. Officers were told at the time that he “suffered from mental disorders” and was a danger to himself and others.

“He had already been caught sneaking firearms,” onto Holloman AFB, the report stated, and “was attempting to carry out death threats” on his military chain of command.

Kelley had already been missing for six days when officers found him. He did not resist arrest.

An Air Force spokeswoman told KXAN Kelley had served in Logistics Readiness at Holloman AFB from 2010 until 2012, when he received a Bad Conduct Discharge from the Air Force. He served 12 months in jail for assaulting his family.

Kelley would likely have been flagged on his first gun purchase in 2014, had his information been entered into the federal database. Since it was not, none of the four gun dealers who officials said Kelley bought from in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 had any idea of the felony convictions on his record.

The failure to enter Kelley’s convictions happened at the Holloman Air Force Base Office of Special Investigations, the Air Force statement confirmed. The service said it’s performing a “comprehensive review” of how this happened.

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