Court finds Air Force largely at fault for 2017 Texas church shooting

The First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
(Image credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A federal judge on Wednesday ruled that the U.S. Air Force is 60 percent responsible for the November 2017 shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, which left 25 people dead and 22 wounded.

The shooter, Devin Kelley, previously served in the Air Force, and in 2012 was investigated and court-martialed for assaulting his former wife and stepson, ABC News reports. U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez concluded that "the government failed to exercise reasonable care" when it did not notify the FBI of Kelley's criminal history, which would have prevented him from legally buying a gun.

Victims and relatives of those killed in the Sutherland Springs shooting filed a civil lawsuit against the government, and Rodriguez found that "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."

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He said that the evidence also shows that "had the government done its job and properly reported Kelley's information into the background check system, it is more likely than not that Kelley would have been deterred from carrying out the church shooting. For those reasons, the government bears significant responsibility for the plaintiffs' harm."

Kelley opened fire during a Sunday service, with his victims between the ages of 5 and 72. This was the deadliest mass shooting at a U.S. house of worship. Kelley later died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

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