Judge: Air Force Was 60% Responsible for Mass Shooting

After court-martial, Devin Kelley's name was not submitted to federal database
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 7, 2021 1:40 PM CDT

(Newser) – In 2012, a court-martial found then-Airman Devin Kelley guilty of assaulting his wife and toddler stepson; he was sentenced to year in a military prison. But the Air Force failed to enter his criminal history into a federal database used for background checks for gun buyers—and five years later, he carried out the worst mass shooting in Texas history. A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the failure made the Air Force 60% responsible for the Sutherland Springs church shooting, which killed 26 people, including young children, the Wall Street Journal reports. If Kelley's name had been in the database, he would have been unable to buy the rifle used on Nov. 5, 2017, though the Air Force argued that he would have found another way to obtain firearms even if he had been in the database.

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Kelley, 26, escaped from a psychiatric hospital while awaiting court-martial in 2012. He received a bad conduct discharge in 2014. He took his own life after the mass shooting, which also injured 20 people. Wednesday's ruling followed a civil lawsuit from survivors and victims' families. "The trial conclusively established that no other individual—not even Kelley’s own parents or partners—knew as much as the United States about the violence that Devin Kelley had threatened to commit and was capable of committing," said US District Judge Xavier Rodriguez. The judge called for another trial to assess monetary damages owed to the families, the AP reports. Last month, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the families couldn't sue the store that sold Kelley the rifle, reports the Texas Tribune. (Read more mass shootings stories.)

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