Sutherland Springs, Texas: An Overview

On the morning of Sunday, November 5th, 2017, a gunman entered a church in rural Texas and opened fire. He killed 26 people and injured 20 more. As a country just on the mend from the last mass shooting, this hits home. That tragic event was one of the top five most deadly mass shootings in American history. Four out of the top five incidents have occurred within the past five years. These were Sandy Hook (2012), Pulse nightclub (2016), Las Vegas (2017), and the church in Sutherland Springs, Texas on Sunday. Churches, clubs, schools, and music festivals are all targeted due to their high density of people. After these tragedies, we are left asking “Why?”

At Pallegar Law, P.A. we represent individuals charged with criminal offenses. If you have been charged with a gun-related crime, contact a skilled Tampa criminal defense attorney who will formulate a defense on your particular case.

One Man’s History of Violence

The gunman has been identified as Devin P. Kelley, a former logistical readiness airman in the United States Air Force. He enlisted in 2010, and served at the Holloman Air Force base in New Mexico. Just two years later, Kelley was charged with assault. Air Force records state that he repeatedly kicked, choked, and struck his then wife. He assaulted his stepson as well, fracturing his skull. There were allegations that he had pointed a loaded gun at his then-wife, but they were dismissed. In November of that year, he was sentenced to one year of confinement. He was stripped of any titles, reducing him to the lowest possible rank in the Air Force-- prisoner.

After being charged with those crimes, Kelley was sent to a psychiatric hospital in downtown El Paso. He was taken into custody at a bus station after fleeing the hospital. Allegedly, he suffered from mental disorders and had threatened his military superiors with death. After serving one year in confinement, Kelley was dishonorably discharged from the military. He was investigated two separate times for sexual assault, not including an allegation for abuse from his then-girlfriend. A past neighbor of Kelley’s at an RV park could only remember how he treated his dog. She stated that the dog was kept tied up all day in the hot sun without water. Once, the police were called because he had repeatedly struck the dog’s head. He pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of cruelty to animals in 2014.

For some period of time, Kelley lived on a barn on his parent’s $800,000 property. 28 acres of wooded farmland provided Kelley with a quiet place to live with his current wife and 2-year old son. A neighbor stated that he regularly heard gunfire from the residence late at night, enough to scare his two dogs. Another neighbor said he would regularly house-sit for Kelley, describing him as a “regular guy”. Longtime friends of Kelley recently posted on social media that he had changed. One described Kelly as “[changing] into something that he wasn’t. To be completely honest, I’m really not surprised this happened, and I don’t think anyone who knew him is very surprised either.”

This tragedy should open the hearts and minds of every American, calling for a change. Whether it be various forms of gun reform or improving our country’s mental health services, something needs to happen. Otherwise, these kinds of tragedies will be the norm-- just another headline. As they are all to often becoming.

Call Pallegar Law, P.A. Today

At Pallegar Law, P.A., we want to protect your right to a firearm. If you have been charged with a gun-related crime, contact an aggressive Tampa criminal defense attorney at 813.444.3912 today.

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