In February 2022, a federal judge ordered the U.S. Air Force to pay more than $230 million in damages to survivors and families of victims of a shooting in a Texas church after failing to submit the gunman’s criminal history to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) background check system which may have prevented him from legally buying the weapon used in the incident, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
In November 2017, Devin Patrick Kelley shot and killed 26 people and injured several others at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Kelly later died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He had served in the Air Force before the shooting and a court found him guilty of assaulting his wife and stepson two years before a bad conduct discharge in 2014, a conviction the Air Force did not report to the FBI, the AP reported.
In July 2021, U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez had found the Air Force was “60 percent liable” for the shooting after failing to submit Kelley’s assault conviction during his time in the Air Force to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) that was established by the Brady Act of 1993 as a national system for federal firearms licensees (FFL) to use to determine if a person can legally buy a gun.
“Under Pentagon rules, information about convictions of military personnel in crimes like assault is supposed to be submitted to the FBI’s Criminal Justice Investigation Services Division for inclusion in the National Criminal Information Center database,” the AP reported. The $230 million figure was settled on after relatives of victims asked for $418 million and the Justice Department proposed $31.8 million.
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