Mother, 2 daughters were killed inside Watts family home in Frederick, prosecutors say

Texas gunman threatened mother-in-law who attended church where 26 were killed

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SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas — The gunman behind the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history had in-laws who attended the church he targeted, the local sheriff said Monday.

Devin Patrick Kelley had domestic problems and had been sending threatening messages to his mother-in-law, Freeman Martin of the Texas Department of Public Safety told reporters in a news conference Monday.

He sent a text to his mother-in-law Sunday morning, officials said.

“This was not racially motivated. It wasn’t over religious beliefs,” Martin said. “A domestic situation was happening in the family.”

His mother-in-law attended the church Kelley targeted Sunday, but she was not inside at the time of the massacre, authorities said.

But 26 others were killed when Kelley opened fire with a rifle at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. The slain victims ranged in age from 18 months to 77 years old.

After Kelley left the church, he was confronted and shot by an armed resident. Kelley called his father as he fled and said he didn’t think he was going to make it, Martin said.

That’s when Kelley shot himself. Authorities found his body inside his vehicle several miles away from the church.

The massacre left about 4 percent of the small town’s population dead.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called the slaughter “the largest mass shooting” in the state’s history. But it’s still unclear exactly what motivated the killer.

“We know that his ex- in-laws or in-laws came to church here from time to time,” Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt said. “They were not here (Sunday). So we don’t know why he actually showed up (Sunday).”

Ten people remain in critical condition Monday, authorities said. A total of 20 people were wounded.

And virtually no one at the church was left unscathed, Tackitt said.

“I think nearly everyone had some type of injury,” the sheriff said.

Investigators have reviewed video footage from inside the church, Martin said.