NATIONAL NEWS

Judge: Air Force Mostly At Fault in 2017 Texas Church Attack

Jul 7, 2021, 4:15 PM
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 10:  Visitors pay respects at a memorial where 26 crosses were pl...
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 10: Visitors pay respects at a memorial where 26 crosses were placed to honor the 26 victims killed at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs on November 10, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. On November 5, a gunman, Devin Patrick Kelley, shot and killed the 26 people and wounded 20 others when he opened fire during Sunday service at the church. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

AUSTIN, Texas — A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Air Force is mostly responsible for a former serviceman killing more than two dozen people at a Texas church in 2017 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% responsible” for the massacre at First Baptist Church in the small town of Sutherland Springs, where Devin Kelley opened fire during a Sunday service. Authorities put the official death toll at 26 because one of the 25 people killed was pregnant.

The attack remains the worst mass shooting in Texas history.

“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,” Rodriguez wrote.

Kelley had served nearly five years in the Air Force before being discharged in 2014 for bad conduct, after he was convicted of assaulting a former wife and stepson, cracking the child’s skull. 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.

Rodriguez said that had the government done its job and entered Kelley’s history into the database, “it is more likely than not that Kelley would have been deterred from carrying out the Church shooting.”

An Air Force spokeswoman did not immediately return a request seeking comment.

Authorities said Kelley fired at least 450 rounds at helpless worshippers who tried taking cover in the pews. As he left the small wood-frame church, Kelley was confronted by an armed resident who had grabbed his own rifle and exchanged fire with him. Kelley fled as two Sutherland Springs residents gave chase, and died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound after losing control of his vehicle and crashing.

Last month, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that survivors and relatives can’t sue a sporting goods chain where Kelley purchased an AR-556 semi-automatic rifle used in shooting. Academy Sports and Outdoors had appealed after two lower courts declined to dismiss lawsuits.

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.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) participates in a bill enrollment ceremony alongside Senate Major...
MARK SHERMAN Associated Press

AP 2015: Supreme Court gives same-sex marriage rights

On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples had the right to marry. The narrow, 5-4, decision did away with same-sex marriage bans in 14 states.
20 hours ago
...
MICHAEL RUBINKAM, Associated Press

Philly’s slain ‘Boy in Box’: 66 years later we know his name

Nearly 66 years after the battered body of a young boy was found stuffed inside a cardboard box, Philadelphia police have revealed the identity of the victim in the city’s most notorious cold case.
20 hours ago
FILE PHOTO (Joseph Pallen/University of Idaho)...
REBECCA BOONE Associated Press

University of Idaho settles students’ free speech lawsuit

The University of Idaho will pay $90,000 to settle a lawsuit from members of a Christian law students' organization who claimed their freedom of speech was violated when the school issued no-contact orders against them.
20 hours ago
U.S. Border Patrol office lobby....
Associated Press

Ex-Border Patrol agent convicted of killing 4 women in Texas

A former Border Patrol agent who confessed to killing four sex workers in 2018 has been convicted of capital murder.
20 hours ago
People holding signs outside of the New York Times....
ALEXANDRA OLSON AP Business Writer

New York Times journalists, other workers on 24-hour strike

Hundreds of New York Times journalists and other staff have walked off the job for 24 hours. They're frustrated by contract negotiations that have dragged on for months in the newspaper's biggest labor dispute in more than 40 years.
20 hours ago
The Twitter headquarters signage as seen on 10th Street on November 4, 2022 in San Francisco, Calif...
MATT O'BRIEN AP Technology Writer

Women sue Musk’s Twitter alleging discriminatory layoffs

Two women who lost their jobs at Twitter when billionaire Elon Musk took over are suing the company in federal court, claiming that last month's abrupt mass layoffs disproportionately affected female employees.
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Judge: Air Force Mostly At Fault in 2017 Texas Church Attack