Air Force Responsible for Church Shooting, Must Pay Over $230 Million

Air Force Responsible for Church Shooting, Must Pay Over $230 Million

( – In 2017, Devin Patrick Kelley launched a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Some 26 people died in the incident, while 20 others suffered severe injuries. Kelley never faced trial, as he died of a self-inflicted gunshot before police could take him into custody. Even so, a recent court ruling may grant victims and their families restitution.

On February 7, US District Judge Xavier Rodriguez ordered the US Air Force to pay over $230 million to the victims and families who suffered as a result of the shooting.

The court laid 60% of the blame for the incident on the Air Force, citing its failure to properly report Kelley’s prior bad conduct discharge from the military to authorities. Kelley would have been ineligible to purchase a firearm had the Air Force followed proper protocols.

Kelley served in the Air Force from 2010 to 2014. He first faced a court-martial in 2012 after police arrested him for assaulting his former wife and his stepson on multiple occasions. The military released him on an official bad conduct discharge a short time later.

Bad conduct discharges involving assault typically disqualify ex-service members from owning or purchasing a gun. State and federal laws also restrict access to firearms for people who commit violent crimes, including assault. But, in Kelley’s case, he never made the blacklist because the Air Force didn’t report his assault charges to the proper authorities.

There were six incidents of assault on Kelley’s file in total, which the Air Force should have reported to the FBI. Judge Rodriguez ruled that the government had intimate knowledge of Kelley’s violent tendencies, and thus, had the best chance of preventing this tragedy.

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