Before the suspect in Sunday’s deadly mass shooting at a Texas church fled a mental health facility in 2012, he allegedly told other patients being treated at the hospital he’d ordered guns online, according to police documents obtained by CBS affiliate KENS.
Devin Kelley was sent to the Peak Behavioral Health Services Center in Santa Teresa, New Mexico after multiple incidents between June 2011 and April 2012 in which he beat his wife and stepson, who suffered a fractured skull in one incident. He escaped on June 13, 2012 with his wallet and credit card, according to the documents.
Kelley, who was listed at the facility as a high-risk patient — a danger to himself and to others — told other patients that he ordered guns online about 48 to 72 hours before he fled the facility, according to the documents.
Police were notified through a 911 call at 10:49 p.m. that night that Kelley was missing. He was found at an El Paso bus station, just over an hour and a half later, at 12:30 in the morning.
While Kelley was missing, 911 dispatchers alerted officials at Hollaman Air Force Base, where Kelley was stationed, that he escaped.
An El Paso Police Department report from the incident warned that Kelley had already been caught sneaking firearms” onto the base, where he “was attempting to carry out death threats that (he) had made on his military chain of command.”
El Paso police arrested Kelley without incident at a bus stop and turned him over to New Mexico police.
Kelley was sentenced about five months later, on November 7, 2012 for the assaults on his wife and child, and was ordered to serve a year in confinement. In 2014, Kelley received a bad conduct discharge from the Air Force, which was supposed to notify the FBI of his domestic violence conviction. Kelley should have been barred from buying the weapons used in Sunday’s shooting, federal officials say.
The Air Force acknowledged Monday that it failed to flag Kelley as banned from buying firearms. The Air Force said it has launched a review of how the service handled Kelley’s criminal records.
Texas authorities say Kelley did not have a license to carry firearms. However, Kelley purchased four weapons in total during the years 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. Two were bought in Colorado and two in Texas, ATF officials said. Three weapons were recovered at the scene of the shooting — a Ruger AR-556 rifle found at the church, and two handguns, a Glock 9mm and a Ruger 22, found in his car, according to Fred Milanowski, special agent in charge of the ATF Houston.
In a statement to CBS News, Peak Behavioral Health said it would not confirm whether Kelley was a patient at the facility, citing federal and state law, as well as the company’s policies.
“Our hearts go out to the victims of this horrible act and their families and friends, and like everyone else in Texas, we are doing everything we can to help the community in recovering and healing from this tragedy,” the company said.
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