On Sunday, 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelly walked into the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas and opened fire.In what Texas Governor Greg Abbott called the deadliest mass shooting in his state’s history.
In the wake of this tragedy – as is often the case after similar attacks – many are asking why and how this could have happened.
While there are no easy answers, investigators have seen a common thread in more than half of the mass shootings in the U.S. in recent years: domestic violence.
In fact, a recent analysis of FBI data by the group Evertown for Gun Safety found that over a five-year period, 54 percent of mass shootings were related to domestic or family violence, and among them a partner. or the murder of another family member was involved.
Kelly has one. U.S. Air Force records show he was court-martialed in 2012 for assaulting his then-wife and young stepson, fracturing the child’s skull. He was convicted and sentenced to one year in prison.
This was revealed in a 2012 police report obtained on Tuesday.where he was sent to face assault charges. In the report, he was described as a “danger to himself and others” who was “attempting to make death threats.” [he] built on its military chain of command.”
Mary Ellen O’Toole, a former FBI profiler and director of the forensic science program at George Mason University, notes that while domestic violence is not a precursor to mass shootings, it does appear to be related.
“There are a lot of people who engage in it.And never become mass killers, but since it’s been prominent in so many cases we’ve seen over time, it really needs to be considered as a warning behavior to watch out for. We already know,” O’Toole told “CBS This Morning.”
After the 2012 case, Kelly divorced and remarried. According to Texas investigators, Kelly and her in-laws were “having a domestic situation going on” at the time of the church shooting. He reportedly sent threatening texts to his mother-in-law, who attended the church, although she was not there at the time of the shooting.
Lori Post, a violence researcher and director of the Buhler Center for Health Policy and Economics at the Institute for Public Health and Medicine at Northwestern University, said it is uncommon for people with a history of domestic abuse to kill or attempt to kill. It doesn’t matter. The victim of abuse but also other people around the victim.
“What the criminal wants is to inflict as much pain and suffering as possible,” Post told CBS News. “That’s how he feels powerful. That’s how he feels like God.”
Researchers refer to this type of homicide as “collateral intimate partner homicide.”
While collateral victims are usually those who are close to the victim of domestic abuse, such as children, a new romantic partner, or other family members, targets can sometimes extend beyond that.
“We often think of criminals as specialists in only one area, so that criminals are only killing women and children and may not be committing other types of crime,” Post said. “But if you are willing to try to kill your wife and your children, the violence ends.”
O’Toole agreed that Kelly’s violent intentions clearly went beyond a desire to confront her mother-in-law.
“He was really mission-oriented.“When someone sets out to be as lethal as possible because they want to kill as many people as possible, engaging in that behavior makes them feel powerful, it makes them feel independent, it makes them feel more predatory. points out so that they intended. was far beyond just killing one person.”
The Post noted several signs that the turmoil was premeditated. “He planned it and organized it and he knew exactly what he was going to do. He had to investigate the church time, the massacre, the weapons and the ammunition.”
Texas and federal laws prohibit domestic violence offenders from possessing firearms, although there are some loopholes. gaveFBI sentences on domestic violence charges, as well as sentences that carry more than a year in prison, to put offenders on a federal database and deny gun purchases. However, the US Air Force admitted it on Monday. .
The history of domestic violence is a pattern seen in other mass shootings. In September, the 32-year-oldIncluding his estranged wife of 27 years, Meredith Emily Haight. According to Meredith Haight’s mother, Debbie Lane, her daughter wanted a divorce because Spencer was an alcoholic and physically abusive.
“After two years of trying to get him treatment, after trying to stop him, after trying to help him… he said, enough is enough, he did everything he could… and with no regrets. K can leave this relationship,” Lane said. CBS DFW.
Plano Police Chief Greg W. Rushin called the crime the worst mass shooting in the city’s history.
“We’ve never had a shooting of this magnitude; we’ve never had so many victims.”.
In Kelly’s case, there was another troubling sign in her past: animal abuse.
The Denver Post Reports He was cited for animal cruelty in 2014 while living at a mobile home park near Colorado Springs. Several witnesses told police they saw him beating a dog with his fists.
O’Toole said there are other warning signs that someone may be preparing for mass murder.
“Some of them include things like leaks. It means someone tells someone directly or indirectly what they’re going to do.”
Behavioral changes are also often observed, including becoming obsessed with other mass murderers, collecting more firearms, or going outside to practice shooting.
“It’s a collective set of behaviors that they already exhibit and unfortunately law enforcement doesn’t get to see that behavior in their living room as it develops,” O’Toole said. “It becomes imperative that someone in the family who witnessed this come forward to law enforcement.”
The post also argues that better communication between the criminal justice system is necessary to identify troubling patterns of behavior when domestic violence is reported.
“Everything we know about domestic violence predicted that this could happen. His whole life was leading up to this moment,” she said. “This is a serious, preventable public health problem. If we want to prevent it, we have to be able to access the information so we can screen people who have a lifetime of abuse and coercion. have been.”
Resources for victims of domestic violence: If you are in immediate danger, dial 911. For any abuse, including physical, threats, stalking, financial, joint child abduction, contact the criminal justice agency in your area. This would be the city or town police department, the sheriff’s department, or the state police. can also reach National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) and National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). Note that even if you are married to your abuser or have a current or past intimate relationship with him, you can still be a victim of rape or sexual assault. Victims of stalking can call 1-855-484-2846 or go online to chat. Sacrifice. To learn more about individual state laws regarding abuse, restraining orders, criminal and civil remedies, visit womenslaw.org. If you’re searching the Internet for help, consider taking steps to delete your browsing history. To learn how, visit newhopeforwomen.org/secure-computer