Whenever something as tragic as a mass shooting occurs, it’s only human nature to want to know everything about the shooter, so as to try and understand their background in order to determine a motive. And the case of Devin Patrick Kelley, who killed 26 people on Sunday at a church service in Sutherland Springs, Texas, is no exception. What would possess someone to walk into a place of worship and open fire on so many people, including innocent children?
Here we will take a look at the psychology of mass shooters and the madman’s past history, which includes charges of domestic violence, a dishonorable discharge from the military and cruelty to animals.
Heavy spoke with a source close to the family who described Kelley as a person whom it would be hard to imagine anyone wanting to be around.
Here’s what you need to know:
Source: Kelley Was an ‘Awful Person’ Who ‘Came From a Great Family’
A source close to family members of Kelley told Heavy he wasn’t accepted by his wife’s family, and “everything about him from the way he spoke to people” was full of disrespect and anger. The source, whom declined to be publicly identified, stated:
Devin Kelley was a piece of *hit in life and he died a piece of *hit. Danielle’s family didn’t approve of him because of his lack of respect for everyone he encountered…he was awful to be around. He was rude and uncouth and had a very short fuse. He was weird and narcissistic, an angry person and antisocial. He came from a great family but I guess that didn’t matter. He was just arrogant and honestly a jerk.
The person went on to say that Kelley’s relationship with his wife, Danielle Shields-Kelley, was “private,” and added that the shooter did not frequent First Baptist Church, where the tragedy took place. As to what drew Danielle to the killer, the source said they had “no clue…he was an awful person!”
Kelley Had a Strong History of Violence, Including Alleged Cruelty to Animals
According to a statement from the chief of media operations for the Air Force, Kelley was court-martialed and convicted on two counts of assaulting his wife and child in 2012. “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.”
In addition, Kelley was cited for animal cruelty after an incident involving a dog in 2014, according to The Denver Post. Witnesses described seeing Kelley in a yard of El Paso County yelling, jumping on and beating a Husky.
One woman told authorities that she had seen a man, later identified as Kelley, running to a loose dog near a camping area where she was staying at.
“She stated the white male then began punching the dog with a closed fist near the head and neck area. She stated she witnessed four to five punches and then the male suspect grabbed the dog by the neck and drug him away,” an El Paso County deputy report said, according to The Post.
In the end the charges were dismissed, with Kelley receiving a deferred probationary sentence and fines totaling $448.50.
“If somebody is harming an animal, there is a good chance they also are hurting a human,” stated John Thompson, deputy executive director of the National Sheriffs’ Association, according to the FBI’s news website. “If we see patterns of animal abuse, the odds are that something else is going on.
The Psychology of Mass Shooters & a Link to Domestic Violence
According to their website, Everytown for Gun Safety “analyzed every mass shooting we were able to identify in the United States from 2009-2016,” and uncovered jaw-dropping links between mass shooters and domestic violence.
The nonprofit organization published the following results, in part:
From 2009-2016 in the U.S., there have been 156 mass shootings—incidents in which four or more people were shot and killed, not including the shooter. These incidents resulted in 1,187 victims shot: 848 people were shot and killed, and 339 people were shot and injured. In addition, 66 perpetrators killed themselves after a mass shooting, and another 17 perpetrators were shot and killed by responding law enforcement.
The majority of mass shootings—54 percent of cases—were related to domestic or family violence.
Mass shootings significantly impacted children: 25 percent of mass shooting fatalities (211) were children. This is primarily driven by mass shootings related to domestic or family violence, in which over 40 percent of fatalities were children.
In nearly half of the shootings—42 percent of cases—the shooter exhibited warning signs before the shooting indicating that they posed a danger to themselves or others. These red flags included acts, attempted acts, or threats of violence towards oneself or others; violations of protective orders; or evidence of ongoing substance abuse.
Jean Kim M.D., a psychiatrist for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at George Washington University, wrote a profound article for Psychology Today that depicted the link between narcissism and mass shooters. Not surprisingly, a description of Kelley as “narcissistic” by a source close to the family goes right along with what the author wrote:
The quickest ticket to notoriety for those who feel lost and desperate has become the surefire formula of the mass murderer, gone media viral. This method is disturbingly easy and instantaneous for a disaffected individual, given the ready access to guns, social media, and then the greater media.
Many of the recent killers noted in their ‘manifestos’, with disturbing clockwork-like similarity, feeling that they were denied what they felt was owed to them: the attention of beautiful women, the popularity they felt they deserved, the power they craved. For various reasons, they had become social pariahs instead.
To counteract this, they upload their own selfie shots and movies on social media, their own writings, as they prepare for their final act and expect an afterlife of the fame and recognition they never got in their own lives. They seethe with anger, the ‘narcissistic rage’ characterized by the famous psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut: ‘the need for revenge…for undoing a hurt by whatever means…’ by giving their pain to others and in doing so build up the remnants of their self-worth through violence.
Read on for further coverage of the tragic event: