In November 2017, a federal judge held the US Air Force 60 % Liable for a mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
Devin Kelley opened fire during a Sunday service at the First Baptist Church, 40 miles west of San Antonio, killing 26 people ranging in age from 5 to 72, making it the deadliest mass shooting at a place of worship in history.
Judge Xavier Rodriguez found that because Kelley was investigated and court-martialed for assaulting his then-wife and her stepson on an Air Force base, the service should have alerted the FBI that Kelley could not legally purchase a gun through its alert system, according to a civil lawsuit filed by families and victims of the shooting against the government.
“The Court finds that the government failed to use reasonable caution in its promise to provide the FBI with criminal history information. The Government’s failure to take reasonable care put the general public, including Plaintiffs, at danger of physical damage. And its failure on November 5, 2017, at the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church proximately caused the lives and injuries of Plaintiffs “Rodriguez penned the piece.
According to the petition, the government contended that the Brady Act protected them from responsibility since it requires federal agencies, including the Department of Defense and the Air Force, to disclose disqualifying material “not less often than quarterly.” “Any record of any individual indicating that the person fits into one of the categories” of people who aren’t allowed to buy guns is considered disqualifying information.
According to the court complaint, Kelley “threatened to murder both (his wife) and Air Force Security Forces” if she reported the abuse to authorities during the investigation into domestic violence accusations. According to his wife, Kelley also threatened to perform a mass massacre at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.
“My job is fortunate. I’d get a shotgun and shoot everyone in the head, “According to the court document, Kelley stated at the time.
According to the court complaint, Air Force investigators determined Kelley had a “long history of violence and abuse.”
Kelley was eventually sentenced to a year in prison for domestic violence.
According to the court petition, he then remarried and mistreated his second wife.
The judge found that the Air Force failed to properly disclose information about Kelley to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which is used by gun dealers to conduct background checks.
“The trial proved without a shadow of a doubt that no one else, not even Kelley’s own parents or lovers, knew as much as the US about the violence Devin Kelley had threatened to conduct and was capable of perpetrating. Furthermore, the evidence suggests that Kelley would have been stopped from carrying out the Church massacre if the government had done its duty and correctly submitted Kelley’s information into the background check system. As a result, the Government bears a major portion of the blame for the Plaintiffs’ suffering.”
Pastor Frank Pomeroy of First Baptist Church told ABC News Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas in 2019 that the shooting had left him heartbroken.
“Almost as much as what the gunman did in our church, the aftermath hurt almost as much,” Pomeroy said.
The government was given 15 days to come up with a settlement proposal by the judge.