Fake News and the Texas church shooting: 3 false stories to watch out for

Devin Patrick Kelley is being named as the shooter in the attack on First Baptist Church Sutherland Springs.

Dressed in all-black 'tactical-type gear' and wearing a ballistic vest, Kelley parked in a petrol station across the street from the church around 11.20 am. He then crossed the road and began opening fire on the church before entering the the building, continuing to fire with a Ruger AR-556 assault rifle, officials confirmed.

ReutersEmergency vehicles surrounded First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs after the attack

When he left the church Kelley was fired on by a local resident who witnessed the shooting before Kelley fled in his SUV.

Little is known about the killer other than his history in the Air Force until he faced a court martial in 2012 for assault on his spouse and their child. He was in prison for a year before receiving a bad conduct discharge in 2014, according to Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek. 

The First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs was where Kelley's in-laws attended church, officials confirmed.

But the lack of facts does not halt the spread of 'fake news' about the suspect and his alleged motives. Here are three instances of 'fake news' about the Sutherland Springs massacre.

1. Devin Patrick Kelley was a Muslim

This myth has been perpetuated on social media and seems to have no basis other than Kelley at one point grew a beard.

A picture lifted from his Facebook profile shows him with a long dark beard but there is no evidence he converted to Islam. On the contrary his friends and former classmates have spoken openly about strongly held atheistic views that he regularly voiced on social media.

TwitterThe claim is completely false and is being circulated on social media.

2. Devin Patrick Kelley's atheism inspired the attack

Former classmates of Kelley have told of how he used to rant about 'stupid' religious people on Facebook, describing him as 'creepy' and 'weird'.

Classmate Nina Rosa Nava said: 'He was always talking about how people who believe in God were stupid and trying to preach his atheism.'

But it is an enormous jump to claim his strongly held atheistic views compelled him to kill 26 people and injure many more, as some are suggesting. This, again, amounts to fake news.

TwitterSocial media users linked Kelley to antifa without any evidence other than his apparent atheism

3. Devin Patrick Kelley was left-wing and part of the 'antifa' movement

The claim, which seems to originate from a thread on the discussion board Reddit, seems to have no basis in fact. But that hasn't stopped it spreading widely with social medias perpetuating the idea Kelley was part of the militant left-wing group.

A screen-grab on an alleged antifa group chat discussing how to 'attack conservative churches' has been circulated alongside discussions about Kelley. But there is no evidence Kelley had any connection to this thread or was in any way linked to the antifa.

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