Trump: Texas mass shooting is about mental health, not guns

Church gunman who killed 26 was court-martialed, discharged from Air Force

President Donald Trump says the mass shooting at a Texas church “isn’t a guns situation,” but is a “mental health problem at the highest level.”

The attack happened Sunday morning when a man dressed in black tactical-style gear and armed with an assault rifle opened fire inside a Baptist church in a small South Texas community, killing 26 people and wounding at least 16 others in what the governor said is the deadliest mass shooting in state history.

Devin Kelley, 26, the man authorities have identified as the gunman, was discharged from the Air Force several years ago for allegedly assaulting his spouse and a child, according to an Air Force spokeswoman.

An address listed in online records as belonging to Kelley is located in New Braunfels, Texas, just outside San Antonio and about 35 miles (56 kilometres) from Sutherland Springs.

While no officials have publicly questioned Kelley’s mental health, Trump said that “is your problem here.” He offered no details.

A U.S. official told the AP that Kelley lived in a San Antonio suburb and that he doesn’t appear to be linked to organized terrorist groups. The official said investigators are looking at social media posts Kelley may have made in the days before Sunday’s attack, including one that appeared to show an AR-15 style semi-automatic weapon. The official requested anonymity because the person did not have authorization to speak publicly.

“This was a very, based on preliminary reports, a very deranged individual. A lot of problems over a long period of time,” Trump said when asked about the shooting as he and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a joint news conference in Tokyo during Trump’s first official visit to Asia.

“We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries. But this isn’t a guns situation,” the president said.

Trump first tweeted that he was monitoring the situation from Japan. He later described the shooting as an “act of evil” during remarks to a gathering of American and Japanese business executives. Abe also offered condolences.

Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said Sunday that Devin Kelley served 12 months’ confinement after a 2012 court-martial. He ultimately received a bad conduct discharge and reduction in rank.

Stefanek said Kelley served in Logistics Readiness at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010 until his discharge in 2014. He was responsible for moving passengers, cargo and personal property in military transportation.

As Kelley left the scene, authorities said he was confronted by an armed resident who engaged the suspect, who later was found dead in his vehicle.

Trump said “fortunately somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction otherwise it (wouldn’t) have been as bad as it was. It would have been much worse.”

“But this is a mental health problem at the highest level. It’s a very, very sad event.”

The shooting comes just over a month after a gunman opened fire on an outdoor music festival on the Las Vegas Strip from the 32nd floor of a hotel-casino, killing 58 people and wounding more than 500. Trump visited Las Vegas soon after to meet with families of victims and first responders.

In the days after the Las Vegas shooting, Trump and his aides declined to discuss possible changes to gun laws, saying it was too soon after the tragedy to discuss policy. Trump on Monday ignored shouted questions about whether the U.S. needs to consider tightening gun laws.

Puting together the pieces

At the address listed for Kelley in New Braunfels, two sheriff’s vans were parked outside and police officers stood at the gate of a cattle fence surrounding the property. Law enforcement officials gathered at the property declined to comment on why they were there. Several messages left for his relatives went unreturned.

Neighbours said that they heard intense gunfire coming from the direction of the address listed for Kelley in recent days.

“It’s really loud. At first I thought someone was blasting,” said Ryan Albers, 16, who lives across the road. “It had to be coming from somewhere pretty close. It was definitely not just a shotgun or someone hunting. It was someone using automatic weapon fire.”

A person matching Kelley’s name and date of birth also registered in 2014 to vote in Colorado, with an address listed in Colorado Springs, home of the U.S. Air Force Academy. The Colorado Secretary of State’s office lists his registration now as inactive.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cloak-and-dagger ninja deliveries

Whining kids at home may be creating the need for wining moms at home

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Smithers woman awarded $55K in RCMP excessive force suit

Irene Joseph alleged false arrest and assault and battery related to a 2014 incident in Smithers

Flooding highly unlikely this year throughout Skeena watershed

Region’s snowpack among lowest in the province

Why I will relay

Wings of fight

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Commercial rent relief applications open as feds encourage landlords to apply

Program would see government cover 50 per cent of the rent

COVID-19: B.C. park reservations surge as campgrounds reopen

Keep trying, many sites not reservable, George Heyman says

B.C. residents can now reserve a provincial campsite for a stay starting June 1

Campsite reservations will only be available to British Columbians

Cullen commission into money laundering in British Columbia resumes today

Inquiry was called amid growing concern that illegal cash was helping fuel real estate, luxury car and gambling

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Bike shops busier than ever, but owners worry about stock supply issues

Uptick in cyclists brings new challenges for shops

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

Most Read