Former middle school and high school classmates of Devin Patrick Kelley, the man who stormed into a church on Sunday, opened fire and killed at least 26 people, have come forward, describing him as heavily medicated and mentally ill. They also commented on Kelley’s Facebook posts, including those about firearms and Atheism.
As reported by Fox News, Kelley entered the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday, and fired on the crowd before fleeing the scene. He was shot by when Stephen Willeford, a local plumber, during his attempted getaway.
A former middle school classmate, who only wished to be identified as Reid, of Kelley’s said that Kelley often complained about his medications while in school, saying, “His parents had him on high doses of ‘psych’ meds from 6th to 9th grade, the time I knew him.”
Reid also shared that “a lot of friends quit talking to [Kelley] by senior year,” and referenced Kelley’s Facebook posts about his rifle and Atheism.
Courtney Kleiber, a former student at New Braunfels High School who self-identified as Kelley’s “best friend for a number of years,” said that Kelley was once heavily involved with the church.
“I was his best friend for a number of years, and he was a happy, caring person back then. It’s crazy what time and mental illness can do to you,” Kleiber wrote in a social media post.
“Great, now I can’t even look through my senior yearbook without seeing this,” she added, displaying a picture of herself and Kelley.
Another student, who wished to remain anonymous, referred to Kelley as a quiet student, though that he had friends in school.
“He recently added me on [Facebook]. I accepted hence we went to school together, and any time I saw him on my timeline he was sharing stuff about guns and being Atheist,” she stated. “He was pretty negative. The last post I remember was of a rifle.”
Students also described Kelley’s relationship with his parents as volatile and even verbally abusive.
After high school, Kelley briefly served in the US Air Force but was later dishonorably discharged for bad conduct in 2014. He was reportedly court-martialed in 2012 after he assaulted his wife and child.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott doesn’t believe Kelley selected the church at random, saying, “I don’t think the church was just randomly attacked.” He added, “I think there was a reason why the shooter chose this church.”
According to Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt, Kelley’s ex-father-in-law did attend services at First Baptist Church but was not present during the shooting. Kelley’s former mother-in-law also had a PO Box listing in the city.
Abbot also disclosed that Kelley had previously been denied a gun permit in Texas “either because he did not fully answer all the questions that are required to get a Texas gun permit, or he answered those questions wrong,” continuing, “that we still don’t know.