He had a history of abusing his ex-wife and stepson as well as a bad-conduct discharge from the Air Force, yet the suspect in the Texas church massacre was able to obtain multiple firearms legally after passing background checks.
How? It turns out Holloman Air Force Base officials failed to enter Devin Patrick Kelley’s 2012 court-martial and conviction on two counts of domestic assault into the federal database.
“Initial information indicates that Kelley’s domestic violence offense was not entered into the National Criminal Information Center database by the Hollomon Air Force Base Office of Special Investigations,” said the USAF in an email statement.
The Air Force announced Monday it had launched an investigation into its handling of criminal records in the aftermath of Sunday’s mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, which left 26 dead.
In a statement, USAF spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said that Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein had directed the Air Force Office of the Inspector General to conduct a “complete review.”
“The Service will also conduct a comprehensive review of Air Force databases to ensure records in other cases have been reported correctly,” said the statement. “The Air Force has also requested that the Department of Defense Inspector General review records and procedures across the Department of Defense.”
Authorities said Monday that Kelley had purchased four firearms—one per year in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017—and Academy Sports & Outdoors said that he bought two guns from their two San Antonio locations in 2016 and 2017.
“Based on information we received from law enforcement, we confirmed that the suspect purchased two firearms from two San Antonio locations, one in 2016 and one in 2017,” said a company statement. “We also confirmed that both sales were approved by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. We are cooperating with law enforcement as they investigate further.”
One of the weapons, a Ruger AR-556 rifle, was used in the attack on the small church, which held about 60 worshipers.
A local man identified by authorities as a “good Samaritan” fired on the suspect as he left the building.
The suspect then fled in his Ford Expedition and veered off the road a short time later, then died as a result of what authorities said appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Kelley pleaded guilty during the 2012 court-martial to assaulting his then-wife and stepson, and was sentenced to up to five years confinement, but wound up serving 12 months, according to National Public Radio.
He left the military in 2014 after receiving a “bad-conduct discharge.”
Those convicted of domestic violence or receiving a dishonorable discharge from the military–which is not the same as a bad-conduct discharge–are prohibited under federal law from purchasing firearms.
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