Mike Huckabee took to Twitter on Tuesday to exploit the horrific Texas church massacre by calling the gunman a “liberal atheist.”
“TX killer was liberal atheist stopped by Christian NRA instructor with privately-owned firearm when existing gun laws failed to stop him,” Huckabee tweeted on Tuesday.
While authorities are still trying to figure out why Devin Patrick Kelley shot and killed 26 people inside of a Texas church on Sunday morning, dozens of right-wing websites have been feverishly spreading several conspiracy theories blaming their opponents — including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), atheists, social justice warriors, communists, the Islamic State, liberals and anti-fascist protesters — for the massacre.
A LinkedIn profile purportedly belonging to Kelley says he was a former Bible school teacher.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, father to Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the current White House press secretary, joined right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh in pushing the false narratives.
On Monday, Limbaugh suggested that the Texas shooting, along with an alleged assault on Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) by his neighbor, the New York truck attack and threats against the Environmental Protection Agency together served as evidence of his larger point: “Terrorists come straight from the Democrat party.”
Far-right figures and anonymous websites like 4chan attempted to place blame for the shooting on the left-wing political group Antifa, short for “anti-fascist,” immediately after the attack on Sunday, despite no supporting evidence.
On Tuesday, WFAA-TV obtained a 2012 El Paso Police Department which revealed that the gunman in the worst mass killing in Texas history had escaped from a mental institution in 2012, issued death threats against his Air Force chain of command, and “had already been caught sneaking firearms onto” an air base.
Police in El Paso, Texas, arrested Kelley on June 7, 2012, at a Greyhound bus station near U.S.-Mexico border shortly after he escaped from the Peak Behavioral Health Services in the nearby city of Santa Teresa, New Mexico.
According to the police report, Kelley at the time “suffered from mental disorders and had plans to run” out of the state after his escape from the mental institution.
He was described as “a danger to himself and others,” while noting that there was a reason to believe he would try to make good on threats he’d made against fellow Air Force officers.
At the time of his escape, Kelley was facing a court-martial on charges that he beat his wife and her son at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico about 100 miles north of El Paso.
Kelly was kicked out of the Air Force in 2014 after spending a year in a military jail for beating his wife and her son.
On Monday, the Air Force admitted that they had failed to inform the FBI about Kelley’s domestic violence conviction, which should have barred him from buying or possessing firearms.