The U.S. Air Force is being held responsible for failing to report felony convictions of Devin Kelley, who shot and killed over two dozen people at a Texas church in 2017 to the FBI six times.
Kelley served in the Air Force for nearly five years before he was discharged in 2014 for bad conduct. He was convicted for domestic violence for assaulting his former wife and stepson.
The Air Force reportedly failed to fingerprint and submit the prints to the FBI on four separate occasions, and then failed to submit the final report on the case twice. A felony conviction in the FBI database would prevent Kelley from purchasing firearms from licensed dealers.
Kelley purchased four firearms after his discharge, and used three of them in the mass shooting, the Associated Press reported.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
A federal judge has ruled that the Air Force is mostly responsible because it failed to submit his criminal history into a database, which should have prevented him from purchasing firearms.
U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez in San Antonio wrote in a ruling signed Wednesday that the Air Force was “60 percent responsible” for the deaths and injuries at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. The attack remains the worst mass shooting in Texas history.
“Its failure proximately caused the deaths and injuries of Plaintiffs at the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church,” Rodriguez wrote.
The Air Force has publicly acknowledged that the felony conviction for domestic violence, had it been put into the FBI database, could have prevented Kelley from buying guns from licensed firearms dealers, and also from possessing body armor.
Kelley opened fire during a Sunday service at the church of Sutherland Springs in November 2017. Authorities put the official death toll at 26 because one of the 25 people killed was pregnant. Kelley died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound after he was shot and chased by two men who heard the gunfire at the church.
The lawsuit against the federal government was brought by family members of the victims. Rodriguez ordered a later trial to assess damages owed to the families.
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