Before Devin Patrick Kelley shot up a First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, last November and killed 26 people, the U.S. Air Force saw him as a “ticking bomb,” according to records reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. In a June 2012 memo, Maj. Nathan McLeod-Hughes wrote that he was “convinced that [Kelley] is dangerous and likely to harm someone if released.” Those assessments, along with Kelley’s video confession of violently abusing his 2-year-old stepson, are among numerous records released by the Justice Department from the time around Kelley’s court-martial proceedings. McLeod-Hughes also wrote that Kelley “conducted research on the purchase of weapons and body armor” while he was held at a mental-health center in New Mexico before he escaped, and was later caught in El Paso, Texas. Kelley also appeared to have a long history with domestic violence, including hitting, kicking, choking, and threatening his wife, Tessa, with a gun to her head. She claimed that Kelley “had threatened to kill both [her] and Air Force Security Forces if [she] ever reported the abuse. Kelley was subsequently court-martialed in 2012 and discharged in 2014. The Air Force admitted it failed to notify the FBI’s firearm-screening database about Kelley’s domestic-violence conviction.
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