Shooter’s parents testify during second day of Sutherland Springs church shooting civil trial

“He said, ‘Dad I f---ed up and killed a bunch of people in church,’” Michael Kelley testified.

Two women hug at a makeshift memorial for the First Baptist Church shooting victims Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas. A man opened fire inside the church in the small South Texas community on Sunday, killing more than two dozen and injuring others. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) (David J. Phillip, Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

SAN ANTONIO – The parents of Sutherland Springs church shooter Devin Kelley testified Thursday in the civil trial against the United States government. The lawsuit was filed by families of some of the victims of the mass shooting.

It’s the first time the media or public has heard from Kelley’s parents since the November 2017 shooting that left 26 people dead.

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Michael Kelley, Devin Kelley’s father, testified about his son’s court marshal while in the Air Force as well as his son’s access to guns.

Michael Kelley said that had he had known his son wasn’t allowed to have a gun he would have spoken to him about it.

Michael Kelley testified that on the day of the shooting Devin Kelley asked his parents to watch his children while he spoke to his wife. Michael Kelley said he told his son that they could do it later but not right then and that Devin seemed fine after that conversation.

Michael Kelley said later that morning he and his wife received a text message from Devin that said, “I’m sorry, go find Danielle (Devin’s wife) in the barn.”

Michael Kelley gave emotional testimony about his final phone conversation with Devin Kelley.

“He said, ‘Dad I f---ed up and killed a bunch of people in a church,’” Michael Kelley testified. “The last thing he told me was that he loved me.”

Earlier on Thursday, Texas Ranger lead investigator on the case, Terry Snyder, continued his testimony that began Wednesday afternoon.

During his time on the stand, multiple law enforcement documents and evidence were presented about the investigation that took place after the deadly church shooting.

It was revealed that the rifle that shooter Devin Kelley used was an AR-556.

An audio recording of a conversation investigators had with Pastor Frank Pomeroy was also played. In the recording, Pomeroy stated that the church had some active shooter training but they could never anticipate anybody shooting through the walls of the church.

Testimony revealed that over 500 rounds were fired from outside and inside the church by Kelley’s AR-556.

In the audio recording, Pomeroy told investigators that he’d had a few conversations with Kelley about his marriage. Pomeroy told investigators that Kelley didn’t give a response when questioned about rumors of domestic violence. Pomeroy also told investigators that during one of their conversations Kelley made comments about “God being fake.”

During cross-examination, Snyder testified that during his investigation he learned that Kelley had a fascination with mass shootings and that according to notes that Kelley had written himself, he may have started planning a shooting in July of 2017.

Michelle Shields, Kelley’s mother-in-law, also took the stand and discussed the relationship between Kelley and her daughter.

She spoke about threats she received from Kelley, including one where he said if she didn’t stay out of their relationship he would “resolve everyone” in her family.

The civil trial is expected to last for several weeks.

It is a bench trial, meaning there is no jury and U.S. District Xaiver Judge Rodriguez will ultimately decide whether the U.S. government was liable in the shooting.


About the Author

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with 15 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter and cohost of the podcast Texas Crime Stories.

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