EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. — The suspect who allegedly shot and killed 26 people and injured about 20 more at a Texas church on Sunday had previously been charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty in Colorado Springs in 2014.
According to documents released by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley was cited on August 1, 2014 for animal cruelty. The charge was later dismissed in March 2016.
Authorities responded to the Fountain Creek RV Park at 3023 W. Colorado Avenue on a report of animal cruelty. A witness told the responding officer she saw the suspect, later identified as Kelley, jumping on top of a Husky and punching the dog with a closed fist before grabbing the dog by the neck and dragging him away.
When deputies tried to make contact with Kelley inside a camper, he initially refused to come outside.
At this time, officers interviewed other witnesses in the area. One witness told authorities he saw Kelley chasing after the dog as it was running away, then beating the dog with both fists.
“He could hear the suspect yelling at the dog and while he was striking it, the dog was yelping and whining,” documents stated. The witness said the suspect then picked up the dog by the neck and threw it onto the ground, dragging it away.
Another witness told authorities he saw the dog running away from Kelley. When the dog didn’t obey his commands to return, Kelley “tackled the dog to the ground and while on top of the dog, punched the dog several times.” Authorities say the dog “yelped repeatedly while being punched.”
Another officer was able to speak with Kelley, who had exited his camper, while another officer was able to go inside and take a look at the dog. The officer said the dog did not appear to have obvious signs of injuries, but that the dog did appear a bit underweight and he could feel the dog’s ribs.
When asked about the incident, Kelley told officers he had to chase the dog after it ran out of his camper and did not obey his commands to come back. Kelley said his dog was “acting aggressively” toward another dog and he had to jump on top of his dog to keep it from running away. Kelley denied hitting the dog and grabbing it by the neck. He also denied throwing his dog down, according to authorities.
The responding deputy said Kelley was placed into custody and was told he would be charged with animal cruelty. He was issued a summons and released.
The dog was taken to a local veterinarian for an examination then transferred to the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region.
According to court records, Kelley was ordered to pay $368 in restitution and was given a deferred probationary sentence. The charge against Kelley was dismissed on March 31, 2016 after he completed his sentence.