Former Air Force colleague says she received disturbing messages from Kelley
Congregation plans to hold Sunday services near building where massacre happened
The family of Texas church shooter Devin Kelley is mourning, his father says, as a list of potential warning signs about the perpetrator of Sunday’s massacre grows.
“We we are grieving. Our family is grieving,” Michael Kelley told ABC News on Wednesday at his home in New Braunfels, about 35 miles north of Sutherland Springs, where police say his son stormed the First Baptist Church on Sunday morning, killing 25 people and an unborn child.
This was Michael Kelley’s first public statement since the massacre. Police say his son – after being shot by a local resident as he left the church, and then fleeing in a car – had called his father to say he didn’t think he was going to make it. Devin Kelley then shot himself and was found dead in that car, police say.
Michael Kelley said the family had nothing else to say for the moment.
“I don’t want our lives, our grandchildren’s lives, destroyed by this media circus,” he said.
The gunman’s troubled history
Meanwhile, the number of potential red flags in Devin Kelley’s past continues to rise.
Texas church shooting: Full coverage
Kelley once claimed that he bought animals off Craigslist with the purpose of killing them, and praised the gunman who killed nine people at a South Carolina church two years ago, a former Air Force colleague told CNN.
Jessika Edwards, who says she worked with Kelley at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010 to 2012, said Kelley told her – after they were both out of the service – that he was “using the dogs as target practice.”
Edwards said the claim was part of a series of Facebook messages that the two exchanged starting in 2014, after both had left the Air Force. She said he initially had reached out to her on Facebook, asking her to be a job reference.
Though Edwards didn’t know whether Kelley was telling the truth about the animals, she said the claim was enough for her to stop communicating with him. She said she wrote the experience off as Kelley “talking weird like he always did.”
She said their post-Air Force conversations on Facebook made her increasingly uncomfortable. She said Kelley once praised Dylann Roof, the man who entered a church in Charleston, South Carolina, and killed nine people during a bible study in 2015.
“He would say, ‘Isn’t it cool? Did you watch the news?’” Edwards said. “He would say he wished he had the nerve to do it, but all he would be able to do is kill animals.”
She said she deleted the messages; it wasn’t immediately clear when exactly Kelley is alleged to have made the animals claim. She said she also told the FBI about the messages, hoping they could be recovered.
Kelley had a troubled past and was prone to domestic violence and animal cruelty, according to public records and those who knew him.
As an airman in New Mexico, he was convicted in military court in 2012 of assaulting his then-wife and stepson.