The massacre here that killed more than two dozen people — the youngest of them just 18 months old — occurred amid an ongoing “domestic situation” involving the gunman and his relatives, at least one of whom had attended the church, law enforcement officials said Monday.
While authorities have not publicly identified a motive for the attack, they emphasized that the shooting did not appear to be fueled by racial or religious issues, as has been the case involving other rampages at houses of worship. Instead, they said the gunman had sent “threatening texts” to his mother-in-law as part of this ongoing dispute.
“This was not racially motivated, it wasn’t over religious beliefs,” Freeman Martin, a regional director with the Texas Department of Public Safety, said at a news briefing. “There was a domestic situation going on within the family and the in-laws.”
While the gunman’s mother-in-law had attended the church, she was not there Sunday when the shooting occurred, officials said.
Investigators have scoured the gunman’s background since he opened fire Sunday morning inside the First Baptist Church outside San Antonio, searching for clues as the stories of those massacred began to emerge.
There were 26 people killed in the church attack, the latest in a seemingly unending series of mass attacks in supposedly safe public spaces. The dead included eight relatives spanning three generations in a single family. While authorities had said Sunday that the victims ranged in age from 5 to 72, they said a day later that those were the people who suffered injuries and were being treated at hospitals.
“Inside the church, the deceased actually ranged from 18 months to 77 years of age,” Martin said. The family that lost eight relatives said one of them was a 1-year-old girl killed in the attack.
Another 20 people were wounded at the church, 10 of whom remained in critical condition Monday, Martin said.
Texas officials early Monday identified the attacker as 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley of New Braunfels, about 35 miles north of Sutherland Springs.