On Sunday, Devin Kelley shot dead at least 26 people at a small Baptist church in Texas, using a military-style rifle. Among those he killed were Crystal Holcombe, a mum who was eight months pregnant, and Rylan Ward, a five-year-old boy. Rylan was shot four times.
Five years ago, Kelley, while in the Air Force, was court-martialled over the assault of his wife and baby stepson.
“He assaulted his stepson severely enough that he fractured his skull, and he also assaulted his wife,” Don Christensen, a retired colonel who was the chief prosecutor for the Air Force, told The New York Times. “He pled to intentionally doing it.”
Kelley was sentenced to 12 months’ in custody. After that, he was given a bad-conduct discharge from the military.
He married again and lived in a trailer park. Another resident at the park, Susan, tells the Times that he had a pit bull puppy he kept tied up in the sun all day. Once, when he hit the puppy in the head, someone called the police, and there was a stand-off, as Kelley refused to come out of his trailer.
Kelley was charged with cruelty to animals in 2014, but the case was dismissed.
Too often, after this kind of shooting, the arguments become solely about guns. And the number of guns in the US is a massive issue. But we also need to dig a bit more deeply and ask more questions.