Devin Kelley’s Animal Cruelty Charge: Suspect Accused of Beating Dog With Fists

HandoutDevin Kelley

Details about church shooting suspect Devin Kelley continue to emerge, and they paint a picture of a past riddled with anger and domestic abuse incidents.

On Sunday, police say Kelley opened fire on parishioners at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 26 people and injuring another 20 before fleeing the scene in an SUV. He was pursued by two citizens, who ran him off the road and he was discovered to be deceased once authorities arrived.

In the years leading up to the mass shooting, Kelley was the subject of numerous abuse allegations.

Court documents obtained by KUSA-TV Kyle Clark show that he was charged with animal cruelty in 2014 in Colorado. A witness to the incident, Jennifer Jones, told authorities that Kelley was seen chasing after a Husky that was running away from him near the rear of his RV. After catching it, she said that Kelley threw it to the ground and “started beating on the dog with both fists, punching it in the head and chest.”

As Kelley was striking the dog, witnesses said they could hear it “yelping and whining,” and Kelley picked the animal up by the neck and threw it onto the ground, dragging him away, witnesses said.

Another witness, Charles Harolds, told police that he heard Kelley yelling at the dog to come to him. When it didn’t respond, Harolds said he saw Kelley tackle it and started hitting it.

The incident occurred when Kelley was living in a mobile home park in Colorado Springs, and El Paso County Sheriff Sgt. Ronald Mitchell responded to the scene. After convincing Kelley to open the door of his RV, Mitchell said he noticed the dog was undernourished simply by petting it and feeling its ribs.

Mitchell said that Kelley claimed the dog ran out of his camper and started getting into a fight with another dog, adding that he had to jump on it in order to gain control.

“He stated he then walked the dog back to the trailer without any other incident,” the criminal complaint affidavit stated.

Kelley denied the allegations made by the witnesses, but he was cited for misdemeanor cruelty to animals August 1, 2014. The dog was removed from Kelley’s RV and transported to the Veterinary Specialty Center.

Court records indicated that Kelley appeared in front of El Paso County Judge Daniel Scott Wilson, and he was sentenced to a “deferred probationary sentence” and fined $368 in restitution, The Denver Post reported.

Prior to moving to Colorado, Kelley served as a member of the U.S. Air Force starting in 2010, and he was stationed at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. He was dishonorably discharged and court-martialed in 2014 following allegations of abusing his wife at the time and their child. Months after the discharge, he moved to Colorado Springs, according to public records obtained by The Post.

On Sunday, police say Kelley, wearing tactical gear and a ballistic vest, started shooting outside of First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas around 11:20 a.m. He kept firing as he entered the church and took aim at parishioners inside attending a weekly worship service.

One of the victims was the 14-year-old daughter of the pastor at the church. The ages of the victims range from 18 months to 72-years old, police say.

Police said that after the shooting, one neighbor grabbed a rifle and engaged in a firefight with Kelley. The shooting suspect ran away and hopped into his SUV, and a passerby picked up the neighbor in his truck. The two citizens pursued Kelley through Guadalupe County until he got into an accident. He was found deceased inside the vehicle after he was ran off the road. Reports say Kelley was found with both a gunshot wound from the neighbor and one that was self-inflicted.

No motive has been revealed yet, but officials said November 6 that there was a “domestic situation” between Kelley and his in-laws, who were members at the church.

Police looked through Kelley’s social media profiles prior to his identity being released, and his Facebook profile was deleted hours after the shooting. The Daily Beast reported that Kelley was married, and his mother-in-law has a P.O. box listed in Sutherland Springs. His home was raided by agents following the shooting.

On October 29, Kelley posted a photo to Facebook of what looked like an AR-15 semiautomatic weapon with the caption: “She’s a bad b**ch.” He reportedly used the photo of the gun as his cover photo and the shooting took place exactly one week later.

A post on Kelley’s Facebook page from October 29.

To learn more about Kelley’s background and the shooting incident, click below:

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