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Texas gunman bought weapons in Colorado, faced animal cruelty case in El Paso County

November 6, 2017 Updated: November 6, 2017 at 10:01 pm
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FBI agents search for evidence on a road near First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017. A man opened fire inside the church in the small South Texas community on Sunday, killing more than two dozen and wounding others. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

Devin Patrick Kelley, the gunman who killed 26 people Sunday at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, had purchased two firearms in Colorado, a federal law enforcement official said at a news conference Monday.

Kelley, 26, who was linked to four guns in the aftermath of the church massacre, also had purchased two in Texas. The gunman bought guns in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, said Fred Milanowski, special agent in charge with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Milanowski said law enforcement officials recovered three firearms after the shooting: the Ruger AR-556 rifle recovered at the church and two handguns - a Glock 9mm and a Ruger .22-caliber.

Milanowksi did not specify which weapons were purchased in Colorado and Texas, nor did he identify the cities where the transactions occurred.

Church Shooting Texas
This undated photo provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety shows Devin Kelley, the suspect in the shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017. A short time after the shooting, Kelley was found dead in his vehicle. (Texas Department of Public Safety via AP) 

Kelley lived in a mobile home park at 3023 W. Colorado Ave., west of downtown Colorado Springs, before moving to Texas, according to court and voting records.

He was charged in 2014 in El Paso County with cruelty to animals, a misdemeanor, court records show. The case later was dismissed.

Four people at the mobile home park said they saw Kelley repeatedly punch a white and brown husky while it yelped on Aug. 1, 2014, says a report released by the county Sheriff's Office.

One witness said Kelley picked up the dog by its neck and slammed it onto the ground. Others said they saw him then drag the dog away.

Kelley initially refused to leave his home, deputies reported. He later admitted jumping on the dog, but he denied hitting it. Kelley said his dog had been acting aggressively toward another dog in the area.

He was charged with animal cruelty, and the dog was impounded with the Humane Society of the Pikea Peak Region.

Kelley registered as an unaffiliated voter in the county in November 2014.

Starting in 2010, he served in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico until he was court-martialed in 2012 for assault on his then-wife and child. He received a bad-conduct discharge after a year of confinement. His final day of service was May 9, 2014.

But the Air Force failed to enter his court-martial results into a fedceral database that could have blocked him from buying the rifle he used to kill 26 people, The New York Times reported Monday.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 bars firearm purchases by people who have been discharged from the military under dishonorable conditions, convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence or is the subject of a court order restraining the person from harassing, stalking or threatening an intimate partner or child of the intimate partner.

And the 1996 Lautenberg Amendment to the Gun Control Act bans gun buys by individuals convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. This includes soldiers convicted of domestic violence through a special or general court-martial, though convictions through summary court-martials are excluded.

Kelley received a general court-martial, so he should have been prohibited from purchasing firearms, Air Force officials acknowledged.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Kelley tried to get a license to carry a gun in the state but was denied.

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