The suspect in Sunday’s Texas church shooting that killed 26 people was previously charged with cruelty to animals, according to criminal records.
The Denver Post reported that Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, received the misdemeanor citation in August 2014 when he lived in a mobile home park in El Paso County, Texas. Residents claimed that Kelley would punch and abuse his dog.
A female neighbor told police that she spotted a Husky running loose near her camping space when a man, later identified as Kelley, approached the dog and jumped on it.
“She stated the white male then began punching the dog with a closed fist near the head and neck area. She stated she witnessed four to five punches and then the male suspect grabbed the dog by the neck and drug him away,” an El Paso County deputy report detailed.
A male neighbor also accused Kelley of yelling and striking the dog as it yelped and whined.
“The suspect then picked up the dog by the neck into the air and threw it onto the ground and then drug him away to lot 60,” the resident also told the deputy.
Kelley claimed his dog ran out the trailer and began acting aggressively toward another canine. He said he had to jump on the Husky to gain control but denied hitting the dog, throwing him to the ground, and carrying him by the neck.
El Paso County Sheriff’s Sergeant Ronald Mitchell claimed the dog appeared malnourished—noting that he could feel its ribs.
According to The Post, the animal cruelty charges were dropped on March 31, 2016, after Kelley completed a probationary sentence. The New York Times added that he moved out the park a few weeks after the charges were dismissed.
At one point, Kelley reportedly lived in another mobile home park in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A woman, who only wished to be identified as Susan, told The Times that she lived in a camper next door and that Kelley would keep his pit bull puppy tied up in the sun all day.
“He was kind of off, lived here with a woman,” she commented. “The only thing that sticks out about him was his dog.”
Susan also recalled an instance where police were called because Kelley supposedly punched the pit bull in the head. However, it’s unclear whether Kelley ever charges for his alleged treatment of that dog.
[Featured Image: Texas Department of Public Safety]