Air Force largely responsible for Texas church shooting

A federal judge ruled that the U.S. Air Force bore most of the responsibility for the 2017 mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas because it failed to capture the gunman’s criminal history at a base Federal background check data used for gun purchases.

West Texas District Judge Xavier Rodriguez’s ruling on Wednesday comes amid a civil lawsuit filed by survivors and families of victims of the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church massacre, which left 26 dead. The 26-year-old gunman, former aviator Devin Kelley, committed suicide shortly after the attack, the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history.

In his ruling, Judge Rodriguez said the Air Force bore 60% responsibility for the shooting and ordered the parties to establish a trial plan within 15 days to assess the pecuniary damages for survivors and families. victims in the case.

“The lawsuit conclusively established that no other individual, not even Kelley’s own parents or partners, knew as much as the United States about the violence Devin Kelley threatened and was capable of committing.” , wrote the judge. Moreover, the evidence shows that – if the government had done its job and correctly reported Kelley’s information into the background check system – it is more likely than not that Kelley would have been dissuaded from proceeding with the shooting. the church. “

Kelley had been found guilty by a 2012 general court martial of two counts of assaulting his wife and child and sentenced to one year in military prison, which should have banned him from legally purchasing a firearm. But the Air Force never entered his conviction into the national instant criminal background check system, which gun dealers must use to check criminal records before selling someone a gun. As a result, after being kicked out of the military, Kelley was able to purchase a rifle from a gun store, which he then used in the Sutherland Springs shooting.

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