You heard that right – a federal judge ordered that the United States Air Force is required to pay over $230 million to the victims, survivors, and their families involved in the 2017 shooting at a Texas church because the Air Force failed to report the gunman’s criminal history.
Judge Ridriguez of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas ruled that the Air Force could have stopped the gunman from buying his rifle that he used to kill 26 people on Nov. 5, 2017 at the First Baptists Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. The shooter, Devin Kelley, served on an Air Force base in New Mexico and previously received a “bad conduct” discharge from the Air Force in 2014 after nearly five years of service.
In 2012, Kelley was convicted of assault against his wife and stepson after he had cracked his stepson skull. The Air Force’s failure to report Kelley’s conviction or discharge is the reason the Air Force was determined to be 60% responsible for the shooting.
If the Air Force had reported the bad actions to the FBI, Kelley would never have been able to purchase the firearms he acquired after his convictions and discharge and before the church shooting.
Our thoughts are with the victims and their families. While no money can every replace the physical harm, trauma, or the death of your loved ones, sometimes seeing Justice brings some solace and will hopefully prevent unnecessary tragedies in the future.
This case is an example of what creative and passionate lawyers can do for you. Many lawyers may assess this case and solely look at Kelley or where Kelley purchased the firearm and stop the inquiry. Others may have found the Air Force misconduct but were reluctant to bring a claim against the world’s largest employer – the United States Government/Department of Defense.
However, a thorough legal and factual analysis followed by a detailed and executed plan-of-action brings results.