Texas Church Shooter Shows History of Violence to Animals, Children

Miranda Hernandez pays her respects as she visits a makeshift memorial with crosses placed
AP Photo/Eric Gay

The First Baptist church shooter in Texas had a history of cruelty to animals, and he even fractured his step-son’s skull. Criminal experts warn about the link between violence to animals and people and they have a checklist of things to look for.

Devin Patrick Kelly was charged with animal cruelty just three years before the horrific massacre that took place on Sunday in Texas, The Denver Post reported. In August 2014, he was cited for misdemeanor cruelty to animals in El Paso County, Colorado. The Post reported that witnesses saw Kelley beat a puppy with his fists.

Jennifer Jones told law enforcement officials that Kelley jumped on a Husky puppy and used his closed fist to punch the young dog around his head and neck. Jones said Kelley took a hold of the puppy by the neck and drug him back to his trailer lot.

El Paso County Sheriff’s Sergeant Ronald Mitchell went to Kelley’s home after they were called. The sergeant said the young dog was undernourished and he could feel the puppy’s ribs. Kelley denied striking the dog, throwing him to the ground, or holding him by his neck, The Post chronicled.

A judge gave Kelley deferred probation and ordered him to pay $368 in restitution and a charge of about $80 to the victim’s assistance fund. Kelley successfully completed his probation so the animal cruelty charge was dismissed in March 2016.

When Kelley was in the U.S. Air Force in 2012, he was court-martialed for assaulting his wife and stepson. Kelley served 12 months confinement at a California Naval military prison after a plea bargain, Breitbart News and NPR reported.

Retired colonel Don Christensen, a former chief prosecutor for the Air Force told The New York Times, “He assaulted his stepson severely enough that he fractured his skull, and he also assaulted his wife.” “He pled to intentionally doing it.” In addition to the prison sentence, Kelley received a reduction in his military rank and he was discharged for “bad conduct,” The Times reported.

Law enforcement and child and elder abuse experts have shown a correlation between violence against animals and humans.

In 2014, in a guidebook for criminal justice professionals entitled, “The Link between Violence to Animals and People,” former prosecutor Allie Phillips wrote a 71-page treatise on the parallel between violence perpetrated on animals and people. The essay was published by the National District Attorneys Association. Phillips is the Director of the National Center for Prosecution of Animal Abuse.

Phillips’ writing says that domestic violence, child, and adult protective services workers are starting to “link their observations when performing home visits because they know that where animals are at risk, people often are at risk and vice versa.”

The criminal violence expert also says that veterinarians, medical and mental health professionals, and prosecutors are all being trained to look for signs of violence on animals. She writes, “Prosecutors are putting increased emphasis on animal abuse crimes because they understand that the behavior that harms the animal is the same behavior that harms humans.”

Breitbart Texas reported that law enforcement officials in Texas say that Kelley’s murderous rampage had something to do with a domestic violence issue.

Lana Shadwick is a writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and associate judge in Texas. Follow her on GAB @lanashadwick and Twitter @LanaShadwick2.


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