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Air Force to pay $230 million to church massacre survivors


A makeshift memorial to those killed in a church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, in 2017. Associated Press/Photo by Eric Gay, file

Air Force to pay $230 million to church massacre survivors

Last July, U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez ruled that the Air Force was 60 percent liable for a shooting at a Texas church in 2017. The military branch failed to flag a conviction that might have kept the gunman, Devin Patrick Kelley, from legally buying his weapon. In 2017, Kelley opened fire during the Sunday service at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 26 people, including an unborn baby, before taking his own life later that day. On Monday, the judge ordered the Air Force to pay a $230 million settlement to 80 surviving relatives and 21 survivors and their families.

Why was the Air Force held responsible? Kelley joined the Air Force in 2010 and was court-martialed for assaulting his wife and child in 2012. The Air Force reduced his rank and discharged him in 2014. Under Pentagon rules, the information should have been submitted to the FBI for inclusion in the National Criminal Information Center database. A Department of Defense investigation found the Air Force did not report incriminating information about Kelley six times. If it had, the offenses might have prevented him from purchasing the gun he used in the church massacre.

Dig deeper: Read Charissa Koh’s report from Sutherland Springs a year after the massacre. You can find all of WORLD’s coverage of the shooting here.


Mary Muncy

Mary Muncy is a breaking news reporter for WORLD. She graduated from World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College.

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